Rise and fall.

The tune is slow and regular.

Memory’s shadow


on a steady breath

of salty spray.

Mister moon

is the conductor

of this melody—

frothy tones mingled with starlight.

Briny echoes

of happier times—

ripples of love’s tender ease—

found lapping

at your mind’s shore

each time

you close your eyes

and hold its iridescent home

to your ear.

©2011 Anna-Marie Durham

Prayer grotto a la home

Christians in South Korea have the benefit of going to Prayer Mountain. There they have created small prayer rooms that one can close themselves off to concentrate and pray. You can make a special place in your home for quiet prayer. Even a small corner or under a desk can make a great prayer grotto at home.

Image result for prayer mountain south korea

Find a place in your home that’s not busy. a back corner, closet floor or even below a desk can serve as a quiet spot. If you’d like, put up some scriptures, reminders, small maps or pictures. Put a pillow you can sit on and you’re good to go. Children love secret spaces, so this might be right up your child’s alley. It’s a quiet spot where they can go to be alone and talk to God. Encourage them to take their Bible and prayer journal with them to write down anything God tells them.

Family prayer journals

A family prayer journal is a great way to chronicle your journey together. All you need is a blank book and a pen. Everyone can add to the book as needed. Keep track of prayers and answers, keep pictures and drawings of things on your heart, and things your learn about prayer. Keep it as a sort of spiritual scrapbook for your family. Since it’s all together in one journal instead of each having their own journal–or in addition to your own–you have a great snapshot of your lives during a particular time. It would be especially good for important milestones, like an illness, loss of a job, a new addition to the family or other life changing event.

Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren.     Deut. 4:9 The Message

God says we are to remember His deeds and tell them to our children. What better way than in a journal?

Homeschooling: iPhone it in

I am an iPhone fanatic. I use it for everything I possibly can, so it makes sense that I’d find ways to utilize it for our home education. These are just a few of the many, many ways an iPhone can add to your home educating experience. I have linked to many apps that I like but I in no way formally endorse or recommend them. Do what you like, I’m just sharing. (For free. No money changed hands for this article.)


I love that I can sync to my iCal so I always have the latest calendar, complete with alarm reminders (which I use a LOT). I also can plan chores (especially easy if you like FlyLady), menu planning and other things too. There’s also a planner app that looks like a real planner and syncs with your Google calendar, if you prefer. I can schedule reminders for all sorts of home maintenance tasks so don’t forget to change the air filter. All this helps me focus less on tasks and more on learning.


I can take notes and pictures, edit and post them to a ton of places. I can write & publish a blog post with my WordPress app. I can save things to remember in Evernote and remind myself of the great time we had in my gratitude journal.


YouTube has tons of videos that are terrific for school. I love to pull up video of things like beavers making dens or a working printing press. I can read books from my Kindle app and from other literature apps. I have things like math flash cards, games and other tools to reinforce skills. (I’ll get into these in another post.) Anything I need to make note of is just a click away. When we are learning on the go, I can look up anything we are curious about, like identifying birds or wildflowers.


Drawing apps, cooking apps, just about anything to plan a field trip (with maps, phone numbers & forecasts) is right at my fingertips. Pandora and other sites have all the music we need. We can learn a foreign language or listen to an audio book or podcast, plan a garden or visit the Louvre.


When I need to, I can use PocketFlicks to add movies to my Netflix instant queue (or for delivery) for school, like documentaries and period movies. I can search for books at my library with a web browser and even print documents I need for lessons. I wish I could say I have found a great teacher planner app, but no such good fortune. That I still have to do on paper or in Homeschool Tracker Plus. But it does help me plan just about anything I need to do. And I can set goals with a little help from master planner Franklin Covey.

I know technology isn’t the answer to everything, even for home education. But technology, when it makes things easier, is a good thing. Thankfully, there’s no a app to replace me–yet.

What do you use your iPhone/iPad/iTouch for in your homeschool? What are your favorite apps?

Blank books for children

With the holidays fast approaching and a sluggish economy, you may be looking for create gift ideas that are easy on your pocketbook. Blank books are great gifts for children, even those who don’t usually enjoy books or even read yet. With a little imagination you can take a blank book and make it a one-of-a-kind gift the child in your life will treasure.

  • Make it into an alphabet book they can fill with words and pictures for each letter.
  • Cut and paste random pictures and phrases as journal prompts.
  • Add pictures of things the child loves.
  • Draw in random frames for them to add their own custom art work.
  • Add pictures. The child can make up a story to go with the pictures.
  • Make a picture book that has no words. Let the pre-reader make up a new story each time.
  • Make a drawing book that has only half of each picture. The little artist can fill in the other half.
  • Add random affirmations or compliments. As they fill up the book they will come across your kind words.
  • Include some “Poetry Recipes,” simple poetry ideas (like haiku or cinquains) they can practice in their book.
  • Sprinkle “story starters” throughout the book for budding authors.
  • Include pictures of family and friends.
  • Call it something special, like a Dream Catcher or Idea Machine. Not everyone likes to journal but everyone likes to capture their ideas at one time or another.
  • Add inspirational quotes or stories to feed their passion in a subject.
  • Add library pockets with tags, envelopes, fold some pages and add other scrapbook paper goodies they can manipulate.
  • Add words at random they can add to their writing vocabulary.
  • Ask them questions about themselves on a few pages and let them talk about themselves.
  • Draw some random shapes and let them doodle them into their own creations.
  • Make your own dot-to-dots or coloring pages by tracing family’s or pets’ faces.
  • Give it to them to start a back and forth journal with a parent. Sometimes children will write things that can be hard to say out loud and it can be a great communication tool.

Make sure to include colored pencils and an eraser so they can create to their heart’s desire. My next book arts post will give you some ideas on making books from scratch for children.

Bookbinders tickets

There was a fascinating discussion on the bookarts listserv about something called a bookbinders ticket. It’s a small paper glued into the back of the book with the binder’s unique mark and it tells you about the binder and when it was made. They’ve been around for  about 400 years and give a offer a history of bookbinding.


I do not make tickets but I do have a little round rubber stamp that I use to mark in the back of my books so people will know I made them. When I get to making more elaborate case bound books and such on a regular basis, I think I will make up some of these. I think it’s important for future generations to know as much about where a book came from as possible. Do you mark your books?

And for the record, I think the artist book colophon has it all over the ticket. (detailed in the next post on bookbinding).

Some links on the topic of bookbinders tickets:

Photos of tickets in color http://sevenroads.org/Articles/Mitchell1953/BookbindersTickets.html



The family newspaper

I had come across this great idea from Lady Lydia and liked it so much I started doing it here and from the beginning it was a big hit. It’s so simple I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. It’s a family newspaper.

The premise is simple:

  • take a sheet of paper and fold in half.
  • Fill the pages with all sorts of interesting things.
  • Give it to your kids to read.

I made a little title that fit our family and set about filling it with jokes, extended family trivia, menus, weather, encouraging words and something exciting that was coming up for each of  the kids that we could all get excited about (or maybe an acknowledgement of some success).

They love to read it while they eat their breakfast. They feel grown up and they love to read about themselves and their family. It has opened up some great conversations too.

I don’t make one every day because I don’t have the time for that. I probably make one every week or so. It’s not fancy. I make one and copy it on the copier so there’s not a lot of color. It’s hand drawn with love and they never complain that it’s too homemade.

Why do it? It’s another way to connect with your kids. And my kids write for the paper too, so it strengthens their writing skills. And I can add “don’t forget” things, so they don’t get another nag session from me. They learn things about their extended family with my trivia and I feed their souls with poetry and their spirits with Scripture.

You’ll be surprised how much you can fit into this little newspaper. If you make one, please take a picture and share the response in the comments below.

25 uses for index cards

I am in love with index cards. Have been for a long time. They are just so, well, handy. There are whole books devoted to using them in your homeschool, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Flash cards. That’s a no-brainer, right?
  • Matching games.
  • Making puzzles.
  • Making 3-D objects.
  • writing out lesson plans.
  • collecting ideas for a paper or a book. they can be shuffled in any order until you are happy
  • Phonics: putting parts of words on cards to match up together.
  • Mental math. Put answers on cards and scatter on the floor. Read problem aloud and when they solve it they pounce on the right answer.
  • Life size board game. Put directions on index cards and create a path through the house. Use big dice and the kids become the playing pieces, following the directions on the cards.
  • For preschoolers: pictures on the cards help them communicate their feelings. They can point to the face that matches how they feel.
  • Use them like soccer warnings. They get cards as discipline. Green, then yellow, then red. You can assign discipline as your family sees necessary.
  • Create a flip book.
  • Write chores to check off.
  • Cut a slit in the end and wind stray ribbon on it. The slit holds the end of the ribbon.
  • Keep a grocery list in your pocket.
  • Lay several out and draw a road on them. Now your boy has a portable road he can assemble anywhere he goes.
  • Make bookmarks for a friend.
  • Recipes. Put one on the quick bread you give to a friend.
  • punch holes and they become lace up cards.
  • Keep a card file organized by month. Use it for birthdays, seasonal chores and other monthly duties.
  • Use them as little canvases for mini fridge art.
  • Make a countdown calendar. Number and decorate the cards and put them in order. Fold one card to make an easel and lean the cards on it. Each day the kids can move the card to the back and see how many days are left.
  • Make a speech. Practice it and then give the speech in front of friends and family.
  • Write or draw your clothes on the cards–Bottoms, tops. Mix and match to create new fashions from your same old clothes.
  • Write your memory work on the cards so you can put them in your pocket for memory work on the fly.

Things are all abuzz

There are several things going on around here, artistically speaking. (I have a husband and 4 kids that we homeschool, so we are always busy!)

One thing is a chunky book swap I am hosting. The theme is “A little birdie told me,” and it’s turning out awesome. The pages are 3X3 and there has to be a bird or wings on the page somewhere. The quote doesn’t have to be about birds, but many of them are. Once I get them together I’ll post some pics here.

Also I am in the latest Gleaner Zine swap. I’ve been itching to do a zine for the longest time and I guess now’s the time to dive in. The theme for that is domestic bliss. I love all things homemaking and wanted to explore that topic artistically. My head is swirling with ideas along those lines. I’m not sure about the page count yet, but I am planning on making some additional copies that I’ll make available here next month.

Of course my Chandler & Price old style letterpress is still gunked up and yucky. She has beautiful bones though, and little by little I am wiping away the grime and her battleship grey beauty is shining through. Who knows when I will actually be able to print on her–I still need a treadle, type, furniture, etc, etc, etc.One of these days I want to get some more books bound. That is frustrating me! I have some cool things in my mental queue that I want to actually finish and add to my store. And to blog about. But that will have to wait for another day. I have plenty to work on this month. Oh and I’m also considering another giveaway–a Keith Smith book. What do you suggest I do in the way of a contest?

Which came first: the content or the concept?

In Keith Smith’s tome Non Adhesive Binding: Books Without Paste or Glue (volume 1), he discusses the relationship between idea, construction and content. This is like the holy trinity of artist books–the conceptual, the physical and the visual. They can come in any order and they are dependent upon one another. Mr. Smith believes that they are intimately connected, but binding serves content, even if the binding choice comes before the content is actually created.

Usually I come up with a concept (such as inspiration from a song or a phrase) first. Then I create content and lastly choose a binding or construction to hold it. Sometimes I find a cool construction, though, and that will motivate me to create something to put in it. Once in a while I will write a poem and work back to the concept and then create a container that is appropriate. And I have to agree with Mr. Smith. Binding always serves content. If not, the results are awkward and uncomfortable. But when these three elements are in harmony, the results are spectacular.

I love thinking about how these three interact, and how different the results can be, depending on where you start. It’s a process that is exciting with each new project and starting at a different place than you are used to can result in work that is fresh and vibrant. And if you don’t have this book–or any of his other books–you need to order one (or all of them) ASAP.

Do you have a particular order, or rhythm, you usually find yourself in when making artist books?