Altered Story Handmade Goods available at BookFinders!

| December 12, 2012

I’m excited to announce that Altered Story Handmade Goods has teamed up with another local business! BookFinders in Stevens Point, WI now offers repurposed hardcover books that have been altered into one-of-a-kind notebooks! Valuing the work of local artists and authors, BookFinders offers a wonderful selection of locally created goods, along with book accessories, candles, gifts, calendars and (of course) BOOKS! And, just like every other Altered Story purchase, 10% of profits from each sale benefits anti-trafficking organizations! So, sales help local business AND they change the world!

Altered Story notebook display at Bookfinders

Each of the notebooks are made of  incredibly unique hard cover books of all different kinds! Writers, both beginning and professional, will enjoy the lined papers found in some. Artists will appreciate the plain sketch papers found in others. Boys and girl of all ages will truly appreciate at least one of the vintage-book-turned-modern-canvas… for thoughts, dreams and ideas! Each book has divider pages, inside:  actual pages from the up-cycled book or unique retro papers, antique magazine pages or old fashioned wallpapers. No two books are alike!

Can you find the Altered Story notebooks?

What a perfect gift! Especially for creative souls who could benefit by having a journal just as lovely as the ideas put down on paper. Each book is bound with a professional grade tool that creates perfectly round and even holes through each and every paper. The wire bindings allow for wide-open page displays, making for wonderfully easy writing! What about using them for: a unique registry of that new baby’s hospital guests? that artistic/literary couple’s wedding guestbook? a child’s first journal? or even a scrapbook you’d like to remain open on your coffee table?

There they are! Right in front!

Whether it’s words or pictures that simply must be recorded, there is sure to be one Altered Story notebook that would be perfect for you or that special someone you have in mind. Make sure to get to BookFinders to check out the wonderful new selection of handmade treasures! And, remember, you can always check out Etsy for other unique Altered Story treasures!

 

 

 

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

| December 6, 2012


I’m not the first girl to rave about “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. But, I’ll take my turn.
I heard references to this book, repeatedly, for over a year before actually purchasing a copy. It seemed it was coming up everywhere. Numerous women I admire referred to it… wherever I went, it seemed! Once, I heard Sarah Young on the radio and her message deeply touched my heart. So much so that I actually pulled it up online and printed out the excerpt that she had read on the radio.  For months, I kept it with me for daily encouragement. I still have it in my Bible.
It’s been since April of this year that I’ve been reading the devotional, each day. Since the Spring, I’ve purchased copies for numerous dear friends and family, hoping they will find the same encouragement, inspiration and daily drawing to Christ that I’ve experienced because of reading it. It’s become a common bond: “Oh! Did you read Jesus Calling, today?!”
I feel as though I am seeing a side of Christ that I hadn’t allowed myself to draw close to, before. Now, I read about the realities of His holiness, but it is through the amazing lens of GRACE and LOVE that leads to a joy-packed, adventure-filled life! Each day reads as if Jesus, Himself, sent me a love letter.  I am able to see the heart of God in a wonderfully open way.  I know. I know. This isn’t scripture and we can’t take every word literally. I’ve read the critics’ posts. But, I do believe that God has breathed all over these daily messages!
Another special thing about this book.  When I read the scriptures referenced, I see shiny new facets of God’s connected meaning strung all together, throughout the Bible. (*Flawed human alert here! Don’t read this next sentence unless you are willing to believe that this pastor’s wife is not so perfect that I get great glee and deep meaning out of EVERY reading of God’s word.)  In the past, I’ve found myself skipping over scripture references in some devotionals or Bible studies… i.e. not doing the extra digging.  It’s because they reference scriptures that say the exact same thing I just read in the exact same way or they seem to be “pulling at straws” in scripture to make a point. These references seem like time wasters and quickly lose my attention and therefore my ambition to page through books and chapters to find them. Not so with Jesus Calling!  I’ve found the scriptures listed are actually fun and exciting to read because they don’t just support the day’s reading, they build upon it. I admit, they also lead me to areas of scripture that I’ve personally highlighted in my Bible, before.  And, God has used those just as much to encourage me in this faith journey. In most instances, it seems like God is showing me one thing and then leaping to another that brings the first truth to an even deeper understanding. It’s totally worth looking them up!
For instance, today I read, “Stay ever so close to Me… What I search for in My children is an awakened soul that thrills to the Joy of My Presence! I created mankind to glorify Me and enjoy Me forever. I provide the Joy; your part is to glorify Me by living close to Me.” Oh, the beautiful, welcoming heart of God! Then, I got lost in Colossians, finding reminders on how to live a life worth living that can only take place out of a heart filled with Jesus! Wow! It seems most days I read exactly what I need to soak up and apply.
Thank you, Sarah Young, for writing this book that has affected so many lives in my own little world! I can only imagine how God has used it in personal and private ways that you will only find out about in heaven!
What about you, dear one? Have you read Jesus Calling? What did you glean from it?

Vintage Storybook Star Wreath Tutorial

| November 30, 2012

Here’s just a glimpse of the awesome star wreath project, below!

Inspired by a star wreath I found on Pinterest months ago, I decided to use vintage pages from two nursery rhyme books to put my special touch on this lovely project. Here’s my tutorial, just for you, in case you are interested in creating your own vintage storybook star wreath! Of course, you could always just go to Altered Story Handmade Goods and snatch one of these up… that’s a little easier!
Make sure you start with all your supplies, and cover your working area with newspaper or anything else you don’t mind getting all glued up!

  • Vintage Storybook Pages – images/text cut out
  • Cardboard piece – any size  (will determine the size of your wreath)
  • Cardstock – complementary color to your images/text
  • Star Templates – either printed onto cardstock from the internet or hand stenciled directly on your card stock
  • Mod Podge (lots!)
  • Paint brush or foam brush (for the Mod Podge)
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue
  • Ribbon – for wrapping around circle and/or for hanging
  • Scoring tool (an awl or a bone folder will do just fine)
  • Martha Stewart Scoreboard or soft cardboard for scoring
  • A sink nearby! This project gets messy!

Step 1 – Print out star images (found on the internet) onto cardstock of your choice. This will be the base color for your stars. The paper color can be seen from the backside of your finished wreath, so make sure to pick a color that suits the project!

Step 2 – Mod Podge your images onto the cardstock, ensuring that you adhere your image to the exact opposite side of the paper from your star image (basically: do not glue images directly onto your star image or you will not know where to cut!)

Step 3 – After the Mod Podge dries, cut out star images. Using the Martha Stewart Scoreboard (or a soft piece of cardboard), score your stars from each point to the opposite side. Make sure that your image is facing down when you do this, so your stars “pop” outward, not inward.

Step 4 – When each star is scored properly, you will be able to push into the middle of the star, making it 3 dimensional. If the center juts out from the points, you’re on the right track!

Step 5 – Fold each line with your fingers to achieve the desired depth of your finished star. (You will have certain control over the “oomph” you give your star, based on this step and how you hold it as you hot glue it to the base.)

Step 6 – When you’ve achieved your desired star “zing-zang”  (height, depth, pop… whatever you choose to call it!), then you can slather it with more Mod Podge. I wanted mine to have a really lacquered look. I used matte Mod Podge, but you could use glossy or even glittery or metallic… there are lots of options! This will help to secure the shape of your stars and make them more durable.

Step 7 – Now for the Base! I just used good ‘ole cardboard! Decide what size you want your base to be and find something around the house that you can use as a circle template (or square or whatever shape you decide is best!) I found a big bowl and a cookie jar cover. Cut this out. You’ll probably want your stars to protrude outside the edges of the wreath. 

Step 8 – Now you’ll want to do something sassy with your circle base… so nobody even knows it was just a piece of cardboard! I used more Mod Podge to decoupage hand-cut strips of the text from the nursery rhymes onto this wreath. Just slather, adhere your paper and slather some more!

Here’s a finished product! Getting to this point was just a few more steps. Step 9 – Decide how you will hang your wreath. I used some durable metalic cording and tied it around the top and then hot glued it to the front of the wreath to keep it secured. Step 10 – I picked out the cutest polka dotted ribbon I could find and hot glued it to my wreath across the front (with a little “give”). Then, I glued on the previously Mod Podged Mother Goose text from the book across the front like a banner. Step 11 – I experimented a bit in deciding which star I wanted to place at which spot, and then attached each star with hot glue just along the edges that touched the base. This is a bit tricky to ensure that the backside still looks tidy. So, I suggest you either make little pencil marks where you want to glue, or do your best at eyeing it up!

Here’s the front side of my yellow-ribbon wreath. I like the colors! I feel like dancing with the dishes! This one is now available at a local gift shop in my area.

On this wreath, I wrapped ribbon around the circle a million times (well it seemed like it!) to cover the base. I hot glued it each time around. I admit, I had a little more control with the paper decoupaged wreath base. And with the ribbon one, I didn’t like that I could tell where it was hot glued through the ribbon. But, both are very cute!

Here they are together! Which one do you like best?

I must admit, this was a satisfying project. There were a lot of steps, but the end results were so unique and beautiful! However, I would only suggest spending most of  your day to make this for a loved one or to liven up your own space. It’s definitely not a project that I could justifiably continue to make for the sole purpose of selling through my handmade goods business. Although it will not end up a financially profitable project, considering all that went into it, I know that whoever takes these home will surely feel blessed!
Do you have a little baby in mind who would love to grow up with these keepsake treasures?
Each vintage storybook wreath is surely one of a kind! If fact, I give each one 5 stars!

 

I Am A Writer

| October 18, 2012

 

Photo taken by Cristi Schroeder at Warrens Cranberry Festival – a place of inspiration!

Dreams can be scary. That’s one reason they can take so long to come alive.
About eight years ago, I read and journaled through “The Dream Giver.”  Working through that book, three passions of mine came into focus as one dream. My lifelong love of reading, my desire to write and my desire to help adolescents combined into a focused dream to author fiction books geared at young girls. I imagined writing books filled with good morals and lessons and big purposes- all mixed inside the storyline. But, in the face of everyday responsibilities, my pursuit got sidelined. (Also, I honestly don’t think that the timing was right.)
It’s true, though, that those ambitions to be a writer have remained. I have often said, “Well, I always wanted to be a writer.” That’s way easier than saying, “I am a writer” which would lead to the question… “Oh? What have you written?” Which would then lead to a lot of self doubt and other’s judgments about my “minor works”.
Here’s that short list of writing accomplishments:
  • a children’s book in 11th grade that received high praises (from my HS teacher)
  • a bunch of A+ essays in college relating to psychological topics (graded and discarded)
  • a retreat curriculum for youth group teens based on the movie, “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (a “whopping” 15 girls, participating)
  • most of the content for a quarterly church newsletter that ran for a few years (I joke that their were 5 faithful readers)
  • (not enough) posts on this blog
My biggest credit, I realize now, is that fact that I’ve been journaling since I was a child. It’s always helped me to get my thoughts and feelings onto paper. But, could all that really help me as a writer? Well, the authors at a recent writer’s workshop taught that anything that gets us writing in sentence form, pouring ideas onto the page-including journaling- will benefit our writing. As I soaked up every word at the workshop, my dream of writing seemed completely possible. And, I sense the conviction, confirmation and excitement that NOW is the time to pursue it!
No, I don’t plan to “take a year off to write my novel” or travel to France for inspiration. I’m just going to start with large amounts of the little things. Like finally blogging 3+ times a week. Writing at least 10 minutes a day with pen and paper in hand. Submitting some articles to local papers and eventually magazines. I hope to incorporate some of my Altered Story projects by writing tutorials for craft projects and seeking publication. Then, as my thoughts get fleshed out and my writing skills develop, maybe I will write that first book for young readers. Maybe, someday, I will write a bunch of books.
So, I’ve just decided to do it! I will finally, actually call myself a writer. I will face my fears and go for this dream!
Calling myself a published author? Well, hopefully that’s yet to come.
I’m curious… do you have dreams of being a writer? What would you write? Maybe we can join together in the pursuit of this dream… however scary it may be!

I Am A Reader

| October 17, 2012

Since my youngest years of elementary education, I loved to read.  I checked out books from our school library over and over again. I felt that the world within the pages was a world I could make my home. A comfortable place where I felt safe. I could laugh. I could relate. I read about people that seemed a lot like me… or who I wished I could be.
I happily discovered the misadventures of Romona Quimby and was hooked! This little girl found herself in lighthearted, funny situations. I soon discovered that the author, Beverly Cleary, had many more books I could enjoy. I loved escaping to Klickitat Street and feeling a sense of community and friendship and family.
As I grew older, I discovered Judy Blume. She wrote about silly grade school episodes that actually dealt with real feelings and frustrations (“Superfudge”, “Otherwise known as Sheila the Great”) I read every one! As I got closer to the teen years, I read “Iggie’s House” and “Are you there God, It’s me, Margaret?” I learned things from Judy Blume that I could never actually speak with others about, in real life. As I read, I felt a part of something. Something secretive, even. Nobody else knew what I was reading. It was mine. And it was beautiful.
As the years went on, “Sweet Valley High” intrigued me more than I’d care to admit, now. Learning about dating and boys and popular kids… well, at least I could read about all that!
When high school hit, I guess I stopped reading fiction and focused on text books that would help me pass tests. College continued with more of the same… and the addition of Bible reading and devotionals as I was feeding my new faith. Christian nonfiction filled my young adult years. Home Decorating Magazines were the bulk of my reading content as a newly married woman. Parent Magazines and books about the stages of human growth were food for thought as I became a new mom. That continued for many years. Country Living, Mary Engelbreits Home Companion… these magazines provided all the light reading I could fit into my busy days. It wasn’t till 2008, when I first heard about human trafficking, that my reading preferences changed from topics relating to the inside of my home to those going on around the world. Gary Haugen and Nicholas Kristof became my new author “idols”.
In recent days, memories have brought me back to those early days of reading. Hoping to recapture what I experienced back then, I’m starting to read some young adult fiction. Dreams are brewing inside me. I’ve always been a reader. But, I’m beginning to believe it’s for a greater purpose than enjoyment or education. It’s about more than me finding myself within the pages of another writer’s work.
I am a reader. But, I am discovering that I am so much more. I’ll let YOU read about that… tomorrow!
What about you? Who are your favorite authors? And, what do you enjoy reading?

The Natashas

| June 15, 2009

 

The Natashas By Victor Malarek

The Natashas by Victor Malarek

 

It took quite some time, but I finished! Many people told me to read this book to learn about sex trafficking, especially regarding Eastern Europe. They pointed me in the right direction!

The Natashas is like a bunch of  newspaper articles put together into a book. There are so many names and dates and details. It’s filled with information about how trafficking takes place and about the politics of it and the ways it is (and isn’t) being fought. This book also has a definite “column writer” feel to it. The writer speaks his mind about the issue. It’s loaded with emotional and personal storytelling that brings each person involved ”to life.” The victims. The traffickers. Those who are helping. Those who stand by and let it happen. Those who create the demand.  It’s hard to believe that these are all real life events unfolding on the pages.

Because of this read, I feel a greater frustration with the depravity of man. I don’t expect sin to end on this earth anytime soon, that’s for sure. But, I hold a strong hope that we can make a difference for the better, especially through the power of Jesus Christ. I want to do whatever I can to stop this terrible injustice.

Let me make a suggestion to read this very informative book. It’s not an easy read. However, it will give you a broader understanding about what’s really going on. The more we know, the more effective we can be in our prayers and in our efforts to make a change.

The 3 R’s

| June 8, 2009

 

Choose Your Own Adventure

Choose Your Own Adventure

READING   As a child of the 80′s, I found great pleasure in laughing through the adventures of Ramona Quimby. I held my breath as I tried to figure out the clues that Encyclopedia Brown discovered. I joined the boxcar children in their cozy little train home that they shared without their parents. As I got older, I read straight through Judy Blume’s box set. Yes, I even remember hiding my copy of “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” from my mom, thinking she might take it away from me if she knew what I was reading. Pretty racy stuff. Those books represented a sort of invisible friend whom I shared a special part of my life with. I think they probably shaped who I became, in many ways.

WRITING   I know this sounds super nerdy, but I loved writing papers in college. Partially because I love to write. Partially because my major, Behavioral Sciences, was genuinely interesting to me. I spent way too long perfecting my essays until I was truly proud of my work. I enjoyed being a nerd. 

ARITHMETIC (or, how they add up)   As I was reading “The Dream Giver” by Bruce Wilkenson a few years ago, I consciously connected those two pieces of me. I began to wonder if perhaps I might use my desire to write for the benefit of pre-teen readers. Might my interest in human psychology unite with my faith to help shape young girls through fiction books? Could being a published author be a part of my future? I hope so.

Our lives are real life “Choose Your Own Adventures”.  We can use what we’ve learned as we make our decisions. What interests and talents have you discovered from the pages of your life that might help you make the most out of the rest of your story?

Responsibilities

| May 9, 2009

A couple weeks ago, I was trying to fall asleep, but I couldn’t stop thinking about finances. I was asking God why he would lead me to take an expensive trip to Moldova when there are so many other needs; more needs than resources. Was this being responsible? 

It wasn’t a vision or a picture story that I tried to conjure up. But, as I was praying, I sensed that I was climbing up into The Lord’s lap. I felt such faith that He was my daddy, and that He would meet my needs. I started crying, filled with an intense trust that He would be faithful to provide. It was a miraculous moment filled with new, childlike trust.

On Thursday night at “The Worth of One,” my Daddy provided enough financial support to provide for both Amy and I to purchase our plane tickets! THAT is the kind of God I serve! That is the kind of Father that I have.

I’m doing what He’s asking me to do. And, He’s doing what I’m asking Him to do, so that I can follow Him. What a great relationship we can have with our Father God! What a good God!

“Sometimes the will of God feels downright irresponsible. You are called to make a decision or take a course of action that seems to make no sense. And if you do it, the people closest to you may think you are crazy. But responsible irresponsibility means refusing to allow your human responsibilities to get in the way of pursuing the passions God puts in your heart.”

Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase p. 18

What Is Your Desert?

| April 29, 2009

 

Streams In The Desert

STREAMS IN THE DESERT

by LB Cowman

 A collection of prayerful meditations, Christian writings, and God’s written promises.  This book has become one of the most dearly loved and bestselling devotionals of all times.

Although the original version of Streams in the Desert was published in 1925, my copy was printed in 1974 and still has the author listed as Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. I think that’s how she would have wanted it to appear. It seems just as old fashioned as the language inside, but her relationship to her husband was key to building her faith. According to the foreword in my version, the book is a compilation of “thoughts, quotations, and spiritual inspiration which had helped to sustain Mrs. Charles E. Cowman during her years of missionary work in Japan and China–particularly the six years she nursed her husband while he was dying.”

Can you imagine the depths of agony, frustration and grief she must have experienced? Yet, she sought God through it all, encouraging herself through the writings of others. It makes me wonder if she thought, “hm… I think someday there will be a bestselling book of all the excerpts that I’ve been putting together.”  No, I bet she was just doing what she knew to do, to find God in it all. I bet there were some days that she found it hard to really feel comforted by what she was reading. But, she knew that it was true, and she chose to keep her focus on Christ.

I love to journal things from the Bible or the other books I’m reading. It helps me focus on truth and I can refer to them, later on. I do it all with the small perspective that it helps me grow in God. But, what if somebody comes across my journals someday? Might they compile them in a book that would encourage millions?

What about you? Maybe the author listed on your bestseller would read something like “Hospital Hansen” or “Addiction Anderson” or “Mommy Miller” or “Nine to Five Nelson.” What is that ingredient of your life that seems to be taking over your days?  Streams in the Desert might not exist if it weren’t for what Mrs. Cowman experienced with her husband. 

Be brave through what you are facing. Look to God in it all. Trust Him. Your situation is exactly what He will use to encourage somebody else, someday. 

Photo Mattes For Framing

| April 27, 2009

Friends Photo Matte

"Friends" Photo Matte

I’ve been making cards since I was child, sending love to others through things I colored or painted. In my adult years, I’ve stamped and used colored pencils and blending pens to do just the same. However, in recent years I’ve been using pages from old children’s books and unique rub-ons to express my thoughts through cards.

For my recent projects, though, I decided it was time to try something a little different. I put some neat old-fashioned pages to use to make interesting photo mattes for friends, girls, boys, and babies. Check them out on my flickr page.

Now, I need to get to the thrift stores for some matching frames! I’m hoping to sell these at a local hotspot of creativity, someday.