Category Archives: Projects

Customized Planner 2.0

About a year ago, I published an article about my first customized planner.  With the new year, I designed an updated version with a few improvements to the layout of the pages.  Originally I kept my monthly calendar and monthly goal sheets in the front of the planner, followed by a series of different logs (i.e. Health/Fitness, Home Maintenance, etc.).  After all of these various sections I listed my weekly goal sheets.  While I like the idea of keeping the monthly pages nicely organized together, I found that I didn’t utilize the monthly goals sheets after a couple of months. I never even looked at the home maintenance section, and the health/fitness section design wasn’t used as much either.  While in theory it sounded like a great layout, I found out in that practice that I needed to revamp the layout.

For this year’s  improved design, I’ve merged the various documents so that most everything flows throughout the year together.  For example, here’s how a standard month of documents flow:

  • Monthly Calendar (2 pages): When it comes to printing calendar pages, I use Dynamic Template v2.05 software designed by the folks over at DIY Planner.  It’s completely free to download.  In addition to printing monthly calendars this software is flexible, having settings that can be modified to print daily, weekly, and even yearly pages.  Simply select your paper size, choose the calendar type, and tweak the settings to come up with your own printable set of calendars that perfectly fit your planner and your lifestyle.
  • Monthly Goals:  A template I designed to help stay focused on health, creative, relationship, financial, and spiritual goals as well as ideas, notes, errands, projects, and home maintenance tasks all on one page.
  • Goal Refocus template:  While searching for various tools and templates, I came across the Goal Refocus template created by Daryl Furuyama who shares experiences in what works in life at WhiteHat BlackBox.  It’s a great template to track your progress on five goals over the course of a month on one page.  Since I created my planner at the beginning of the year, I’m finding this template is very useful in tracking how much progress I’m making when it comes to two of my health goals: taking vitamins daily and making exercise a priority.  As Daryl recommends, you fill in the circle completely if you made a lot of progress on the goal (for example a full 30 minute to hour workout) as compared to some progress (such as fitting in just 10 minutes of stretching when I’m super busy with other priorities).  The template is also great since there is space to jot down a quick note by each day and a full side of the page can be dedicated to brainstorming notes to help you stay focused on what’s important.
  • 4-5 Weekly Goal pages:  A template I designed to that is very similar to the monthly goals sheet.

Now I still have some sections that I keep separate in the back:

  • Project Meeting template: Another great template found via DIY Planner that was created from a user using their form widget software.  While you can tell that the original designer of the template created it mind for the office since there are spots to log the conference room and conference call information, I use for tracking meeting notes for my various projects outside of work.   I particularly liked this meeting template more than other ones I have seen since the layout makes a good use of space to track important details on just one page.  Some of the features include spots to keep track of the meeting agenda as well as a graph area for notes.  About the only drawback is that there wasn’t a spot to track follow-up items.  However, I find myself tracking the action items in the meeting notes section.
  • Ideas: basically alternating blank and lined pages for brainstorming on various ideas/projects
  • Web Design
  • Wish List
  • Prayers/Affirmations

In a future post, I’ll share the monthly and weekly goal templates I designed, but in the interim if you looking for templates for your planner, I highly recommend DIY Planner since they include a wide range templates created both their core team of designers as well as contributions from guest designers.  You can also use their free DIY Planner Widget Kit software to design your own templates.

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Customized Planner

Customized PlannerFor as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to design my own personal planner.  So last year, I started with a plain three-ring binder or as I liked to call it, my Five Dollar Planner.  I kept everything organized in various sections by removable sticky tab dividers, and by the end of the year, I fine tuned my planner organization system to the point where I was ready make my own customized planner.

When it came to creating this planner, I designed it completely from cover to back.  For the covers, I cut some leftover mat board scraps to be slightly bigger than the inner pages.  Then I used a wide variety of materials to decorate the covers from metallic paint to handmade paper.   Once everything was dry, I varnished the covers to provide durability and then as a final touch, I added metal corners.  After the covers were completely assembled, I designed the inner pages, which included:

  1. Monthly Calendar
  2. Monthly Goal Sheets
  3. Health & Fitness log
  4. Home Maintaince List
  5. Wish List
  6. Website Goals/Planning
  7. Ideas
  8. Daily/Weekly Goal Sheets
  9. Prayers/Affirmations

Some of the pages were designed completely from scratch and others were obtained from online resources.  While it might seem to be a daunting task to compile and create a customized planner, the majority of the work was completed over a weekend.  The covers were the most time consuming factor as it takes over a week to allow enough time to let each layer dry.  The end result has been a very productive tool, and probably my only complaint is that the 1″ black wire coil I selected to bind the planner might not be big enough over time as I paste collages and various resources inside the pages.

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How to Organize your Digital Photos

My digital photos are somewhat organized, but over the years, I have used different folder naming conventions, which makes it increasingly difficult to find what I want easily.  So today, I developed a method to organize the images using a combination of category and date driven folders.

The first collection of folders is grouped by major categories such as Art Reference, Photos, Prints, Store Photos, and Website Photos.  Within each major category, I break down that particular category further.  Using the “Photo” folder as an example, it contains subcategories such as Friends, Family, Local Events, Nature Walks, Travel, and Work.  Then within those subcategories, I organize the images in folders using the following format:  YEAR.MM.DD – Folder Description (Example: 2008.01.02 – Nature Walk at Lettuce Lake HDR).   By listing the date format backwards, it will keep the folders chronology organized as other date formats can get out of order.  Also within the folder description, I reference important information such as HDR, which stands for high dynamic range so I can easily tell what type of photo is contained within the folder.

Once you get the basic folder structure set up, you can download a free photo organizer such as XnviewIrfanview, or Picasa.  Some of these programs can help you further organize your images by batch renaming of file names, assigning tags (i.e. names of people, places, etc.), or assign ratings so you can easily find your favorite images.  They also assist with editing your photos if you don’t have Photoshop.  Personally, I use Adobe Bridge, which interacts with Photoshop so I can edit photos in batches to automatically resize and apply filters.

Finally, make a habit to organize your photos as you download them in a format that works for you, and of course, don’t forget to back-up your images to a CD, external hard drive, or through an online website that can also assign privacy levels.  And of course, if you have another tip on how to organize photos, please feel free to post your idea in the comments section.

Photo Credits: “why I love my vintage cameras” by Katie Weilbacher

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Idea Sketchbook

idea sketchbook

This week my Bind-It-All and DreamKuts machine arrived in the mail. I ordered it through Bonnie’s Best Art Tools, and was impressed with how quickly and well packaged it arrived.

As recommended, I started out with a small project, only 6 punched holes.  I designed my cover with a collage of elements ranging from a butterfly duo to Grumbacker Finest Oil Paint.

The sketchbook measures 4.75″ x 4.5″ making it the perfect size to carry around in a pursue or backpack.  It’s filled with 160 unlined pages of 50lb acid-free paper, and is coated with diamond glaze, an adhesive that dries to a clear glass-like finish, on front & back cover.  Then the entire journal is bound with a brown wire coil.

It’s available for sale in my online Etsy store for only $10 so go get it and let the creative muse flow!

inside pages

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Designing New Business Cards

Just finished creating new business cards to send off to the printers. While it’s cutting it short, in order, for them to arrive in time…this upcoming Friday to be exact for my upcoming group art exhibit “Art after Dark” at the Tampa Museum of Art…I placed the order with Overnight Prints that has all sorts of options for priority printing and shipping so I’m sure they’ll arrive just in time! The cards are designed with for full-color printing on both the front and back.

front sideThe front design of the card has all of the typical business card information against the background image of one of my paintings that I recently sold at Equinox, “Chaos Theory”. As for the back side of the card, it features one of Photoshop creations using an image taken from the painting entitled “A Liaison with Ink”. The website address is incorporated into the design along with two key phrases “become immortalize…commission a portrait” and “models wanted”. Each sends a different message to the viewer in hopes to spark a potential sale or inspiration for my next creation. back sideSo share your thoughts and let me know what you think. I always love to hear feedback on my designs.

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Spring Wreath

Spring Wreath

It’s been a busy weekend so far…full of errands all day, but somehow, I did find time to be creative and make this spring wreath!

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Collage for the Cook

shatter-for-web.jpgOkay. I am not the artist in the family. I can draw reasonably well, but this semester I am taking a course called “Color Theory.” Now why would a culinary student want to take such a class?

Well, to challenge me and help me with making better looking platings. No, I am serious. Why ya laughing?

See, I am finding that the human mind first eats with his eyes. I am sure there are a billion quotes out there to back up this idea. I want to learn to make food that is very visually appealing. I have a few goals with the cuisine I am going for, but I want it to look beautiful, but naturally. Hence color theory. I need to learn how to use colors to help me with making great looking foods.

We had to do a collage a few weeks back. I just wanted to put it up and say what I a great time I had doing it. Its been awhile since I have done any art like this. It started out as an exploration of gold and yellow hues and then complementing and contrasting colors started showing up. We have a box where we keep old magazines. Natalie keeps them around specifically to work on collage, but its kind of new to me. I went through the box with her, choosing pieces that fit the color profile. Before I knew it, it had kinda of shown up. It was enjoyable. I might start doing a bit more. I’ve been researching collage techniques and I might pick it up. Its fun artwork even a busy student can find time to do.

Here’s my first attempt. It’s 14″x16″ with a 1″ border. I want to get it on a drum scanner and have it printed up on metallic paper. If you look close, you can see some recognizable elements from cd covers. Quite a bit of fun. There’s NIN in there, Smashing Pumpkins, and a few others. Other things are elements from calendars, magazine advertisements, articles, and some postcards. I think there is even a Newsweek.

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Transformational Power of a Little Paint

Before Image of Spring Wall SculptureLast week my mom found this spring goddess wall sculpture that had a few color discolorations on sale at Target for only $3.50! While at first glance, most shoppers might walk right past it, I could see the potential so my mom bought it for me.

Later that week, I went through my craft paint to see what I could do to spruce it up, but I didn’t have the right colors so we went to one of my favorite stores, Pearl, a local art supplier. At first, I started looking in the standard acrylics area since I thought the combination of a moss green paint and a translucent, shimmery paint might just be what the paint doctor ordered to transform this piece of wall sculpture, but nothing called out to me so I walked over to the craft paint supplies and came across Deco Art Patio Paint Textuals in Moss Green. I also discovered Delta PermEnamel Shimmers in White Pearl. The both of which probably only cost me around $5.

After Painting: Spring Goddess Wall SculptureNow when I sat down to start transforming the wall sculpture with just a little bit of paint, I wanted to bring out the flowers and add some depth to her hair so I mixed in some Light Apricot craft acrylic paint into the moss green paint at various stages. After about two good layers of paint, the sculpture really took on the form. However, during the painting process, the “Spring” lettering needed to be touched up so I used Black India ink of all things since it is thin enough to seep down into the cracks of the lettering.

Once I was done painting, this would traditionally be the point where you would apply the shimmery paint, but I have to admit I kinda like the natural look so I decided to leave it as is.

Overall, the project took less than an hour (not including drying time of the paint) so next time you discover a hidden treasure just remember that paint can transform any surface and bring it to life.

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Happy New Year cards

Happy New Year CardsBetween going up to New York for business this month and twenty million other things, I knew I was going to be late with Christmas cards this year so I thought I’d sent out Happy New Year cards instead. However, at this rate, I’m still behind, but the cards are handmade using one of my portraits, Chaos Theory, so maybe they’ll be worth the wait.

For those of you interested in trying to make your own homemade cards, my method is quite simple. You just need the following supplies:

- a set of blank cards: I purchase mine from JoAnns in quantities of 50 at a time for only $10

- prints of your favorite photos: I order my online at for only 19 cents a print and then pick them up at the store an hour later

- photo corners: While I’m at JoAnns, I also pick up black photo corners to easily attach the photos to the blank card so the receiver of the card can always frame the print if they really like it

- a really good quote or saying: go to google and simply type in the holiday along with the words “greeting” and “quote” to get a list of good greetings that you can print up or handwrite on the inside of the card

So basically, for a total of 40 cents per card, you can easily create a personalize card for less than retail without a lot of effort.

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Big Idea Book

As someone who is always having creative ideas, I have always struggled with how to keep track those ideas for a rainy day. In the past, I would try to log them in my journals, but over time I would lose track since the ideas were kept in between long winded journal entries. I even debated using a cork board or a jar with scraps of paper, but nothing seemed quite right.

As I debated the perfect way to track my project ideas, I started to keep track of the search terms visitors were using to find my site in a little scrap notebook. In time, I started to realize how perfect it was to have one little place to log ideas…and by chance, this little notebook became the big idea book.

The key to the idea book is that you only log key words. The idea book isn’t the place where you expand upon your ideas. It’s sole purpose is to become the ultimate index of your ideas. So to get started in keeping your own idea book, look around the house for a little notebook. Possibly even something small enough to travel with you. And then you might also look for a larger notebook to expand upon your ideas later.

While you might prefer lined pages, you might experiment with blank pages so you can brainstorm on the page, and connect corresponding ideas with arrows. Or even sketch pictures of your ideas.

To get your idea book going, here are some ideas of things you might track:

big idea book- Painting ideas
- Favorite Quotes
- House Projects
- Garden Projects
- Art supply wish list
- Yearly/Monthly Goals
- Favorite Artists
- Art Projects
- Artist Dates
- Sketching ideas
- Photo Shoot ideas
- Journaling prompts

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