New Handmade Travel Journal

Travel Journal by Natalie Parker

Sometimes the travel journal is the first thing checked off my prep list.  Sometimes it’s closer to the last.

We’ve got a big trip up our sleeve and I wasn’t sure how many pages I’d need to fit it all, or what paper would do it justice on the cover.  Due to lots of crazy life events, I didn’t have time to buy and had to use my stash.

Then I stalked around the house looking at every piece of paper I could get my hands on (insert moment when I thought I’d lost the paper from Italy in the move, then realized I didn’t want to use it for a journal once I’d found it).

I settled on something bright, cheery, and orange.  I added more pages to it than I ever have in a journal before.  Usually I use 10 sheets of paper, which when folded in half gives me 40 pages to write on.  I went with 25 sheets this time.  I hope it’s enough!

I sometimes find taking time out to write in my journal a chore and find myself envying Mr. P reading a book.  But I’m always glad to have it when I get home.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t scrapbook while traveling.  It’s just me and this little journal.  I can’t wait to use it!

Click here for step by step directions on making your own travel journal.  Click here and here to learn how and why I keep a travel journal.

How to Install a Temporary Gallery Wall

Gallery Wall by Natalie Parker

I love gallery walls.  I have a ton of them pinned on Pinterest.  I always struggle designing them myself because I can never get them just right.  “Effortless” is the absolute last word used to describe any project of mine.

Mr. P and I have a lot of art collected from our travels (read more about shopping for street art here) and most of it is not displayed.  I needed to solve for two things:

First, I had lots of oddly-shaped items but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  Getting odd-shaped things framed or mounted is expensive.  I considered cutting my own mats and making my own plexiglass frames, but that seemed like a lot of work too.

Second, it needed to be temporary.  This was for our little rental apartment.  While we love our place dearly, we knew sooner or later we’d move (sooner actually, more on that later).  It didn’t make sense to put a lot of time and effort into something that we’d take down.

Gallery Wall by Natalie Parker

I finally realized what I’ve been doing wrong: over thinking it.  I saw this pin on Pinterest and was sold.  I loved the idea of layering and mixing media and sticking things directly to the wall.

This entire process from idea to finished product took three days (including Prime shipping from Amazon on the adhesive).  That’s it!

Sticky Supplies

I ordered a couple types of adhesive: Duck Brand Poster Putty and Command Poster Adhesive.  I tested both on magazine pages first.

Gallery Wall by Natalie Parker

I was worried that the putty would leave long term marks, so I used the Command strips on the items I really cared about and the putty on ones I didn’t.


I planned the placement of the art.  Mr. P made me this scale drawing and little art pieces back when we were planning to get things framed.  I used the model to rough out where I wanted everything.

Gallery Wall by Natalie Parker

I selected photos.  I went through my collection and went for bright, macro photos.  When I couldn’t decide on the final ones, Mr. P pointed out that the wall almost had one piece from every country we’d been to.  I stuck with the theme and picked pictures from other countries to complete the set.

I printed photo drafts in multiple sizes and laid everything on the floor to check the look.  This was fun.  We moved things around a few more times, played with the layering, and made sure we picked the right size for each photo.

Gallery Wall by Natalie Parker


This was the easiest part!  I printed the photos and we got to work.  We started with the giant Antarctica map and moved right.

Not everything is hung perfectly.  The map could have been smoothed out a bit more.  The whole gallery could have gone a few inches to the left.  I don’t care though — I’m just happy that I can actually see my stuff on the wall!

Gallery Wall by Natalie Parker

Easy DIY Purse Shaper

DIY Purse Shaper by Natalie Parker (5)

Here’s an easy and cheap way to make a purse shaper for your handbag!

Why Use a Purse Shaper

Two reasons:

It will make your purse look nice, even when really full.  When I travel, I keep a ton of stuff in my bag.  I’m always carrying the DSLR, a travel book, phone, personal essentials, and maybe a sweater when we’re out and about.  That doesn’t compare to what I put in it for the plane.

It helps your purse keep its shape over time.  If you put your purse though as much as I do, it will eventually lose its shape.

Yes, there are companies that will make custom purse shapers.  I wasn’t going to pay $20+ for something that I could easily make (or ask my mom to make for me).


You will need: a handbag, a hard piece of plastic, a piece of fabric big enough to wrap around the plastic (preferably matching the handbag lining), a razor blade, scissors, and fabric glue.

About the plastic: pick any hard plastic that you can cut with a razor blade.  It doesn’t matter what it looks like because you’ll be covering it.  My mom cut up a campaign sign that she had on her lawn during the last election.  I bet the cover from an old hardcover children’s book would work great.

I don’t recommend using wood.  Thin, light wood might break after a while.  If it was thick enough to not break, it will weigh down the bag.


I freely admit that I asked my mom to make this for me.  I love having DIY projects to work on when I visit home and she had all the supplies on hand.

Step One:  Use your razor blade to cut the plastic.  Cut it larger than you think you’ll need — it’s easier to make it smaller than to start over.  Cut it so you can easily get it in and out of your purse.

We used an old lawn campaign sign for mine.  In case you were wondering, he was running for county supervisor.

DIY Purse Shaper by Natalie Parker

Step Two:  Wrap the plastic in fabric and glue.  Fold the fabric like you’re wrapping a present.  It’s fine if it doesn’t look perfect — put the glued side facing the bottom of the bag.

My mom sewed mine because she’s an overachiever.  Gluing will work just fine.

DIY Purse Shaper by Natalie Parker

Step Three:  Insert into your bag and forget about it!

I don’t even realize the shaper is in my purse anymore.  It handles all my things like a champ, especially when I toss my DSLR in the bag carelessly at least fifteen times a day when we travel.

DIY Purse Shaper by Natalie Parker

Make yourself one of these before your next trip.  Care for your purse!

How to Color Correct Craft Photos

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

Editing craft photos is always challenging.  I’m not talking about making pictures look better than real life.  I just want my pictures to show what things look like in person — not that easy!

Even with my fancy pants DSLR and trying my best to use natural light, my photos still come out dark and a bit off color.

The darkness I can fix.  I use Picasa to turn up the exposure and add a little more contrast to compensate.  Even then, the pictures are still tinted a bit — they’re either too blue or too warm.  Even more challenging, if I fix the temperature on the photos, it’s hard to get a series of photos looking the same.

Here’s the trick: add a piece of white paper to your photos.

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

I use a small square of white cardstock and position it in my photo so it’s on the side where I can easily crop it out later.

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

See what I mean?  I took that photo in natural light in my living room.

In Picasa, use the eyedropper tool and the white paper to correct the photo.  Simply select the eydropper and click on the white paper.  Boom!  The color is instantly corrected.  I’m not an expert, but I think it has something to do with telling the program that the paper is a true white and it adjusts the rest of the colors accordingly.

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

I do this step first, then I play with the brightness and contrast.

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

When I’m done, I crop the white paper out and get my finished product:

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

As a reminder, Picasa is a free photo editing tool.  I’ve written about my favorite Picasa editing tools here, and how to make photo collages in Picasa here.

Color Correcting Craft Photos by Natalie Parker

My 2015 Valentines

Valentine by Natalie Parker

Happy Valentine’s Day lovelies!

Just popping in to share my 2015 valentines.  I started designing and sending valentines to my girlfriends in 2013.  I love the chance to work on a different project and I love sending mail (obviously).

I also like to challenge myself to use up supplies.  This year, I had a bunch of 5×7 envelopes. 5×7 valentines here we come!  I’m in love with how it turned out — it’s huge.

I used a photo from a Paris market I took a couple of years ago.  Then I added some text on top in Photoshop (this easily could have been done in Picasa too).

Have a great weekend!

Earlier: 2013 Valentines, 2014 Valentines

Craft Project: Handmade Envelope Clutch

Envelope Clutch by Natalie Parker

I’m so glad to be flexing my crafty muscles again.  Between my thesis, job, and making scrapbook layouts, I haven’t had the time for other projects.

Late last year, I was planning my outfit for a holiday party and my dress needed a new purse.  Serious.  Right before we headed to my parents’ place for Thanksgiving, ABM published this envelope clutch tutorial.  A new craft project plus my mom can help me?  Score!!

I followed the tutorial but made a few changes which I’ll outline below.


Instead of using two separate colors, I decided to go all black.  The faux leather at the fabric store was very flimsy.  I had much better luck in the upholstery section and found this woven black vinyl.

Even still, I didn’t think the vinyl would be stiff enough to hold its shape as a purse, so I purchased enough to double-layer it.

Envelope Clutch by Natalie Parker

I also picked up some thick black thread.  ABM calls for waxed thread but I found it unnecessary.

I couldn’t find a cute closure.  Instead I got a regular purse magnetic closure, plus a cute button to glue on top (hence the tube of glue).

Sewing Away

I followed the tutorial pretty closely.  It was difficult to get the two layers of my purse to line up as I was sewing it, but I decided to keep sewing and I’d trim it later.

After it was all done, I trimmed away all the excess showing, then went over the seams with a Sharpie so the grey underside wouldn’t show (I know, classy!).

Envelope Clutch by Natalie Parker

My mom and I attached the purse closure under the flap.  Then I glued the pretty button to the outside.

Taking it for a Spin

I’m glad I double-layered it.  It would have flopped all over the place if I hadn’t.  I might have been able to get stiffer material at a different store, but I’m happy with the result.

Envelope Clutch by Natalie Parker

The bag held a small wallet, lipstick, and my phone with room to spare!

Here it was on the big night — it matched perfectly!!  I loved it so much I took it out to lunch the next day.

Envelope Clutch by Natalie Parker

Envelope Clutch DIY: click here for the full tutorial from A Beautiful Mess

Free Printable 2015 Calendars

2015 Free Printable Calendar by Natalie Parker

Hot off the proverbial presses, here are my 2015 free printable calendars!  For the uninitiated, I make these for myself every year so why not give them away?

Mr. P and I use the 12-page calendar to plan meals and sketch out travel plans.  I use the desk calendar on my actual desk at work as a reference.  Plus, it looks nice!

2015 Free Printable Calendar by Natalie Parker

Just like with everything in my work environment, I’m more creative if my tools look nice.  So, pretty calendars coming right up!  I’ll also freely admit I like to have things exactly my way, so making my own calendar is just another way I get what I want.  But hey, know thyself.

This year I went with softer colors and a fancier font.  Definitely a change from last year.  I hope they brighten your workspace!

Print the 2015 12-Page Calendar

2015 Free Printable Calendar by Natalie Parker

Print the 2015 Desk Calendar

2015 Free Printable Calendar by Natalie Parker