Hello!

Want to join a really fun creative challenge? Last year, I launched the #2030make challenge and we’re celebrating with a new updated workbook and emails to encourage you on your journey. Check out the video below + the history behind #2030make. You’re going to love it!

By signing up below, you’ll also gain access to my weekly sketchbook letters that I write to encourage you in your creative journey. Hope you have an amazing day!

Love, Jennie

(Having trouble with the form? Please click here to use an alternate form to get your workbook and join the challenge.)

2030make Challenge
I don’t have a lot of TIME to create these days. And I’m guessing you don’t either. I know, I know, I’m a craft blogger so I’m supposed to be making things all the time, right? But the truth is, even though I love to work on creative projects, life is busy. I’ll make things for this blog but struggle to get past the idea stage for myself. Case in point: I bought yarn last October for a scarf that is still only half-way finished. I wish I could say that it is because it is a complicated pattern but the truth is, I keep forgetting about it. And let’s not even talk about my daughter’s photo book. She is a year younger in photo album years.

Do you relate?

  • You want to make things but the days seem too short.
  • When you do have time, you usually procrastinate and end up doing a load of laundry (or something like that.)
  • You wait until the end of the day to work on your projects and then find you’re too tired.

You’re a creative person who has a lot of ideas of projects you want to make, skills you want to learn, and techniques you want to try. But you don’t have the time. I hear you.

So what’s a creative to do?

That was exactly my question last year when I launched #2030make for the first time. I decided to set aside 20 minutes a day for the next 30 days to work on my projects. And thousands of you decided to join me. It was AMAZING.

In that month, we…

  • Wrote eBooks
  • Finished quilts
  • Stitched up cute gifts
  • Finally finished the baby book
    And basically, got back into our creative grooves

This mindset ended up becoming the driving force behind my concept of creating personal retreats for ourselves. (Yay for The Creative Retreat workbook!) It also completely changed the way I look at my creative life. Instead of being driven by guilt and feeling like I’m always behind and never have enough time, I’ve learned (and am learning) to take each day at a time and to carve out micro-moments for myself to create.

It’s amazing.

So in honor of the one year anniversary of the #2030make challenge, I updated the workbook with a new way to track the days (if you like to color, you’ll love this!) I also added some more information and will be adding a video or two to YouTube throughout the month to talk about creative projects and to encourage you on your #2030make journey.

What I love most about this challenge is it’s all about grace. Your age, skill level, and income don’t matter. All you have to do is set aside 20 minutes each day for the next month to work on your creative projects, whatever they may be.

When you sign up, you’ll receive a FREE workbook that you can use to get inspired and to track your project through the month. You’ll also receive an email each week with some thoughts on the creative process (as well as encouragement to keep going!)

I’d love to see and hear about what you’re working on, so use the hashtag #2030make on Instagram and Twitter so I can cheer you on. You’ve got this!

Hi, I’m Jennie.

I write about simple crafts and living a creative life on my blog, Little Girl Designs. I believe that we’re all creative and that taking time to hone our these abilities truly matters.  When I’m not working on a creative project, you can probably find me chasing my toddler and going on walks with my husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Oh, and probably eating some chocolate. :)

Some posts from Little Girl Designs you might enjoy:

Mindfulness 101: Set an Intention

Have you ever set an intention for your day? How about setting an intention as you transition from task to task? This practice is a gamechanger when it comes to mindfulness and being more present in your daily life. Here’s how to get started.

Recently I started a new practice that I wanted to share with you. It is simple, but has really helped me to stay mindful and present throughout the day.

Before I get out of bed in the morning, I take a couple of deep breaths and release the tension in my body. Then I think of my intention for the day.

Release tention –> Set an intention

Your “intention” for the day needn’t be fancy or well-thought out.

Sometimes it is as simple as “have fun” or “be present over perfect” for me.

Take a moment and set an intention for the day. Doing so will help you to be more mindful and more happy in the life you've been given.

I’ve also found that doing so as I transition from one task to the next throughout the day really helps in maintaining focus and energy.

In other words, I reset my intention as I drop my kiddo off at preschool. It’s exercise/work time now. I release again and set a new intention when I pick her up.

In Brendon Burchard’s book, High Performance Habits, he talks about this practice and how the consistent release of tension throughout the day as we take on different tasks keeps stress from building up.

Think about it. All of the conversations, stressors, interruptions, and happy moments you go through each day slowly but surely add up. By acknowledging them as they come, it greatly helps our mindset. I don’t think any of us do very well with pushing things under the surface.

By releasing tension and setting an intention, we are able to stay mindful. And in so doing, more happy and less stressed.

Try it! I was surprised how helpful this super simple practice has been for me. It’s especially a game changer during particularly stressful seasons, believe me. :)

Hope you have a magical {and creative} day!

Use Your Art Supplies

Here is a small manifesto about you taking the time to finally USE your art supplies. The precious, beautiful, perfect, and expensive ones. It’s time.

It used to be that when I bought a pen I liked or a pretty little journal, I would keep them nice and pretty and “safe.” I still have Twin Star stickers that are in mint condition from my childhood. (Long live Hello Kitty and her friends!) But if there’s one thing my daughter has taught me, it is this:

Art supplies and creative supplies of all kinds are meant to be used.

Soft watercolor crayons are meant to be drawn with until they’re nubs.

Watercolor pencils were made to be drawn with, sharpened, and used until they are miniatures of their former selves.

Stickers are meant to be peeled off and stuck onto something else.

Pens need to be written with until the ink runs out.

Journals must be filled with doodles, random thoughts, nothingness, mistakes, and genius ideas.

Use The Creative Retreat book and fill it with your drawings and musings!

In other words, I’ve learned to be less precious with my supplies.

My kid blazes through blank books and stickers. She goes through black gel pens like you wouldn’t believe. But when I see the amount of work she’s creating, I’m stopped in my tracks.

So THAT’S how it’s done.

Today, my challenge for you is to take out that item you’ve been “saving” for a rainy day and USE IT.

I’m using my lovely Rifle Paper Co. journal as a happy journal, and I’m drawing in INK . . . something I never would have done years ago. The journal is beautiful, and the paper is smooth as silk (which means, in the past, I would have put it in a drawer for safe keeping.)

Isn't this the prettiest journal ever? And the pen is my new favorite for happy journaling. :)

Can I just tell you what a pleasure it is to use a nice journal like this? Wow.

That’s the untold bonus in this exercise. You finally get to ENJOY the amazing supplies you own. It’s an early Christmas gift to yourself.

Keep on creating . . .

 

 

 

 

P.S. Both of my books, The Creative Retreat and Happy Journal, Happy Life encourage you to use what you have on hand to create! You can purchase both of them on Amazon. :)

Why Happy Journal, Happy Life Isn’t Full of Examples

Since publishing Happy Journal, Happy Life, there have been a few questions as to why I didn’t add more pictorial examples.

There were several reasons that prompted me to go this route. Believe me, I was tempted. But here is why I decided to go light on the pictures.

1. The purpose of the book. The ultimate point of the book is to inspire readers to start their own happy journals. This book is a guide that when finished, can be set aside as you create your own journal. I included open-ended instructions so readers would know what I meant by a “happy journal” as well as some photos. But I didn’t show pages and pages of photographic ideas throughout.

2. The comparison factor. Some people stop in their tracks when they see examples that either don’t appeal to them or that seem “too hard” to copy. I heard from friends and family right away who said they would like to do this but they weren’t artists. I want to communicate that happy journals are what you make them to be: whether that means stick figures or detailed sketches. Everyone can benefit from them.

Here's why I decided to go light on the pictures for my new book, Happy Journal, Happy Life. Hint: It's a guidebook for YOU.

3. I want to be authentic. The pages you see in the book are from my own journals. The problem I ran into is many of my journal pages include names of friends and family as well as personal commentary. I considered redrawing them for the book, and might do so for the printed version, but I find a lot of the spontaneity, imperfection, and warmth that I love in my happy journals is completely lost in doing so.

Update: I did end up redrawing some of the pictures for the paperback after all! The Amazon version of the paperback is black and white, and I wanted the images to be as crisp and easy-to-see as possible. We’re also releasing a limited-edition of a full color version available for U.S. residents in the contiguous states only. The paperback edition of Happy Journal, Happy Life will include 51 journal pages so you can start your happy journal immediately. I’m so excited about this. :)

I LOVE how many of you have been inspired to pick up a small notebook and begin recording your happy moments. And I especially love hearing how many of you are doing so even though you don’t consider yourself an artist. Yes!

Keep your happy journal close as we finish out this year so you can reflect on all the good that has been gifted to you.

It’ll become a blessing in a book, believe me.

 

 

 

How to Combat Creativity Monsters

If blank page syndrome is a real thing (and it is), then surely creativity monsters are right up there on the list.

Creativity monsters are the super unhelpful gremlins that sit on your shoulder and whisper things like . . .

“You’re not that original.”

“Why even try?”

“You’re not going to show that to anyone, are you?”

“You should give up.”

Really helpful, right?

These little gremlins are tricky. If you feed them with additional gremliny thoughts, they begin to fill out and grow. They gain power from struggling artists and LOVE to help you stay in that spot.

But today, rather than giving in to them, we are going to COMBAT those creativity monsters.

In three easy steps.

Ready?

Let’s do this!

How to Combat Your Creativity Monsters

Number one: Spoil yourself.

You heard me.

When those squeaky gremlin voices begin whispering at you, it is time to go into combat mode.

Grab a piece of paper and write down five things you could do TODAY that would help you feel better.

Ideas could include listening to your favorite song, purchasing & eating the best cacao nib bar ever, taking a hot shower, going on a walk in the forest . . . Oh wait, those are my ideas. But you get my point.

Now do those things.

“Oh, sheesh. It’s not that big of a deal. These thoughts get me all the time,” you say.

Okay. If this is a regular occurrence, you especially need to up your self care. Sleep longer, nourish your body well, encourage yourself with treats and things that make you smile, make time for relationships . . .

In short, your creative tank might be dismally empty which makes your heart the perfect environment for gremlins to move in and make their comfy homes.

Secondly: Tell someone. Or someones.

Quick, call your mom. Or your BFF. Or SOMEONE. Tell them you want to quit. Let them talk you down.

And no, please don’t get on to Twitter and tell the world of your angst. This info is for your inner circle (for now, at least.*)

Side note: Don’t tell someone who has their own giga-gremlins and who will encourage you to go to the dark side. Call Sam, not Gollum.

*Additional side note: When you’re really feeling bad about yourself, the last thing you need is strangers who don’t really know you weighing in. There will be a time for you to tell the world, but for now, tell the people who can give you a hug and make you a second cup of hot chocolate.

Gremlins and creativity monsters of all kinds really, really hate it when they are brought to light. It embarrasses them. They realize that they really have nothing that talent, determination, and awesome YOUness can’t fight.

They are just little puffs of fluff compared to what you have to bring to the world.

Telling someone about the discouragement you’re going through will help dissipate it. You will be able to see the true picture behind the smoke.

Oh my goodness, this step is so important. Please go do it today.

Thirdly, and finally, take the next 30 days to start a happy journal.

Yep, 30 days.

You will need one small blank book and one pen. If you purchase my book on happy journaling here, you’ll discover a journal at the end of the book!

For the next 30 days, draw out one or a few things every single day that make you happy. Keep your eyes wide open if you’re in a particularly monstery time.

If you are already upping your self care and getting some encouragement from cheerleading friends, then you’ll have a couple of items to draw right away.

This practice of recording your happiness will stir something in you. You’ll find that a confidence will grow that will look down at those creative gremlins and actually be able to roll her eyes instead of cowering in fright.

In short, you’ll be growing your brave muscles.

Creativity monsters attack every single one of us. Don’t feel bad when they get you down.

In fact, take a moment and revel in the truth that they are only attacking you because you are actively moving forward on your creative path. The gremlins don’t bother with those who have given up on their dreams.

You got this.

Now go get ’em!

How the Mini Canvas is Changing My Art Life

Do you want to add more creativity to your day? Have you ever considered painting a mini canvas? Here’s how these small paintings are changing my life!

 

Have you heard of the Painting a Day movement? It started back in 2004 when Duan Keiser set out to share his work on the internet.  What started with one man has turned into thousands of artists striving to do one small painting a day – mostly every day. I am always looking for practical ways to get creativity into my life so when I discovered this idea years ago, I was intrigued.

When I grow up, I want to paint like this! Love this mini canvas by Hannah Stevenson!

The part that caught my attention was the idea of using a small canvas to get a whole painting done in less time.  When I say small, I mean anywhere from 2×2 to 6×6 inches small.  So, about a year ago, I went to my local Michael’s, picked up a stack of 4×4 – 6×6 canvases and tried it out.  And, while I don’t get to paint every day, this mini-canvas concept has changed the way I do art.  Here’s why :

Life is BUSY

I don’t know about you but I don’t have hours a day (or even a week!) to dedicate to my art practice.  Motherhood and life, in general, has a way of filling up fast.  But just because this stage of life is busy, doesn’t mean I want to get out of the practice of making art! That’s where the small canvas comes in.  Because of the small size, I can usually make something I’m happy with, in a little over an hour.  I don’t have to tell you how good it feels to actually accomplish something (like a whole painting!) in about an hour.

Wouldn't it be fun to paint a mini canvas portrait of each family member?! LOVE.

I Like To Try New Things

Another reason this idea works for me is that I like to try different kinds of styles.  Because I’m only investing an hour or so and very few materials, I feel more free to experiment with styles or techniques that I’ve always wanted to try.

Carol Marine the author of the book Daily Painting says, “Painting small and often gave me the freedom to experiment.  Every day I got to start on an entirely new project.  No longer did I feel overwhelmed by the large number of things I wanted to paint – I could do them all.  If one subject or one style didn’t work out, well, I didn’t sweat it.  I had only invested a part of a day’s worth of work on it, after all.  My fear of failing disappeared — well, almost. Probably a little fear is good for us. I do know I was no longer making excuses not to paint.”

Super cute mini landscape! What a great idea to use a mini canvas to sneak in more creative time!

I’m Cheap

I think the thing that trips me up the most when it comes to painting (or any medium, really)  is that I’ll waste not only my time but hard-earned cash on something that doesn’t “turn out.” With the painting small concept, those fears all but disappear! Because I’m using a small canvas (that I can usually find for close to a dollar) and very little paint, I can enjoy the process and know that even if it doesn’t turn out to be my best work, I am not out much time or money.

I Get to Improve Quickly

I learn just as much about composition, color, value, etc. when I’m working on a small canvas as I do working on a larger one.  I can then take what I’ve learned from my small painting and implement it on something else.  I have found that I learn so much from these little paintings and have gained more confidence in my skills as I’ve started to improve more quickly.

This mini canvas reminds me of Anne of Green Gables. :) Love!

It Doesn’t Have to Be a Canvas

It’s important to note that this concept really translates to any medium.  I tried it out in my sketchbook with great success.  Just a sketch a day instead of a painting. I was amazed at what I could do in just a few minutes a day.  You could use anything from oils to pastels to charcoal to collage work.

Just make it small and see what happens for you!


Hannah Stevenson is an artist and mom to four. Her passion is to help creative moms make time for their art. Check out her new FREE ecourse The Art Habit for Moms. She writes about about creativity, nature, intentional education, and mindful family life at LilyandThistle.com.  She also makes paper dolls!

 

Anyone Can Start a Happy Journal

This post is from an email I sent out to my subscriber list earlier this week. I wanted to share it with you because I think it’s true: anyone can start a happy journal.

What a delicious week of happiness!

Thank you for all of your support of my new book, Happy Journal, Happy Life. I have BIG dreams for this little book because I think it is a method of gratitude that is accessible to so many.

You don’t have to be an ARTIST.

You don’t have to have a lot of supplies.

It makes me so happy to look back on old happy journals. They have been a light throughout my life. I love journaling but these journals are the BEST!

All you need is the ability to stop and observe the world you’re privy to. “Open my eyes so I may SEE,” says the Psalmist. That’s the prayer of the happy journaler.

She is always on the lookout for the goodness of God. For the beauty that still exists in her world.

And she is determined to record it.

She knows how easy to forget the good. The negative moments seem to cement themselves into her brain, endlessly replaying their stories.

Here's your guide on how to start a happy journal today. What would you draw in your's?

But she stops that pattern by jotting down the happy.

Her daughter’s giggles.

The sun shining.

An old friend randomly texting hello.

Her favorite chocolate bar on sale.

They’re small things but she knows those little things are what make her life. And so she draws them out.

We’re on a quest to find the happy things. Want to join us? Here’s your guide.

P.S. I highly recommend creating a happy journal page or two with a child. Their insight is invaluable.

P.P.S. Curious what others are saying about Happy Journal, Happy Life?

It's so important to focus on the positive, as this reviewer points out.

Proof that anyone can start a happy journal. A happy review from a customer.

 

20 minutes, 30 days, what will you make?

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Join the #2030make challenge! I'm busy, you're busy, we're all busy...BUT that shouldn't keep us from creating, should it? Join me on this 30 day challenge where we take 20 minutes a day to work on our projects. Free *updated* workbook and a weekly email on creativity to encourage you included!