Happy Monday, My Lovelies!   I've been creating some fun things in the art studio, and today I'm sharing a tag accordion journal tutorial with you.  This is a fun craft to do with kids and grandkids.  

Here is a list of supplies you'll need:

1 piece of 18" X 12" drawing paper
(I have a Strathmore 400 series drawing paper pad, but any drawing paper will do.)
decorative craft paper
assortment of tags (For this project, tags must be less than 3" in width.)
ribbon and or lace
binder clip
stickers (optional)
washi tape (optional)
stamps and ink pads (optional)
markers (optional)

NOTE:  Most of the tags I used are white on back so they can easily be written on.  


1.   Measure three inches from the bottom of the paper and fold.  This will hold the tags in place on the inside.  Fold the paper in half with the flap on the inside.  Next, turn the paper over and measure three inch intervals vertically and very lightly mark with a pencil.  Fold along these lines, alternating "accordion style."  Once folds are made, erase the pencil marks.

2.   Now, decorate the flap if you like with craft paper, washi tape, or stickers.  This step is optional.

3.   If you like, you may decorate the back or add paper to hold even more tags, but leave the first and last rectangle free for the front and back.

The back only has four sections for tags.

4.   Next, decorate the front and back if you like, and the inside.  I added washi tape and stickers to mine.  You can also draw with markers or ink.

6.   Add ribbon or lace to your tags, then place them in the journal.  NOTE:  You can also make your own custom tags with stock paper or heavier craft paper.



I decided to decorate the front and back, but you can leave them blank.

7.   Once all your tags are in place, you can close the journal and secure with a binder clip.  


Embellished binder clip


How do you use a journal like this?

I think they're great for documenting short trips or events.  Also, small ephemera can be stored along with the tags, or can eve be glued to the tags.

Another good idea is to give one as a gift;  readers enjoy using the tags as bookmarks.  

This craft is super easy.  The hardest part is measuring for the accordion folds.  Do you think you'll try making one?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm sharing a literary murder mystery with you entitled The Artist Colony by Joanna FitzPatrick.  I jumped at the chance to be a part of this book tour when I realized that the book is set in one of my favorite places in the world, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

According to Goodreads:

From the historical fiction author of Katherine Mansfield comes a bold, creative and unexpected mystery.

In Joanna FitzPatrick’s charming and gripping new novel, set in 1924, Sarah Cunningham arrives in Carmel-by-the-Sea from Paris to bury her estranged older sister, Ada Belle. En route, Sarah was stunned to learn that Ada Belle’s death had been categorized as a suicide. The inquest’s verdict makes no sense. Ada Belle’s reputation was growing: her plein air paintings regularly sold out, and she was about to show her portraits for the first time, which would have catapulted her career.

What begins as a short trip to bid Ada Belle adieu turns into a protracted stay for Sarah. She puts her own artistic career on hold and, trailed by Ada Belle’s devoted dog, Albert, becomes a secret sleuth, a task made harder by the misogyny and racism she discovers in this seemingly idyllic locale. From the posh Hotel del Monte to the windswept sands of Carmel Beach to Robinson Jeffers’s Tor House to Point Lobos’s Whalers Cove, Sarah immerses herself in the women’s artist colony to discover Ada Belle’s secrets—and to expose a killer.

Part mystery, part historical fiction, this engrossing novel celebrates the artistic talents of early women painters, the deep bonds of sisterhood, the muse that is beautiful scenery, and the dogged determination of one young woman to discover the truth, to protect an artistic legacy, and to give her sister the farewell she deserves.  

My Review:

What I found the most fascinating about this book is the sibling rivalry of the two sisters, Ada Belle and Sarah.  Sarah feels as if she is competing against her famous and talented sister, and there is definitely some resentment on Sarah's side because Ada Belle sold their New York apartment and built a cottage in the California artist colony of Carmel-by-the-Sea.  Sarah, studying art in Paris,  hasn't communicated with her sister in months.  Then she receives a telegram stating that Ada Belle is dead, and would she please travel to California for the inquest.  While on the train right outside of Carmel, Sarah learns that the inquest proceeded without her and determined the cause of Sarah's death as suicide.  Sarah is in shock and disbelief.

Sarah moves into her sister's cottage, The Sketch Box.  Carmel to this day doesn't have any house numbers, and most artists during this time named their cottages.  She was shocked to learn that Ada Belle, known as an "en plein aire" landscape artist,  had become a bit obsessive about her new series of portraits; all of the portraits in the series are missing, and now Sarah has two mysteries to solve.  But the clock is ticking because Sarah has a solo show of her own coming up soon in a respected gallery in Paris that needs her attention.

The point of view switches from omniscient to first person (Sarah's), and I liked that when the POV's change, Sarah's point of view is italicized.  During these brief scenes, we get a sense of what the two sisters' relationship was like, although we're only privy to one side of the story.  It almost has a magical realism element as these internal dialogues with Ada Belle become increasingly helpful to Sarah as she gets closer to solving her sister's murder.  The eerie marine layer fog that sometimes covers Carmel adds to the mystery and ghostly atmosphere of the story.

Joanna FitzPatrick did an amazing job researching the history of Carmel as well as oil painting.  She even mentions Paris green, a deadly oil paint that achieves its beautiful emerald green hue with arsenic.  Although oil paints were more dangerous then, with heavier levels of lead, etc., oil paints are still toxic today with hydrocarbons and heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cobalt, and barium added as pigment.  One of the minor characters in the novel is none other than Robinson Jeffers, the poet.  His Tor House is even featured in a party scene in the book.

Hawk Tower at Tor House
Learn more about Tor House HERE.

One of the most compelling characters in the novel is Sirena, who is half-Japanese, half-Portuguese and passes for white.  A talented artist, she lies about her identity in order to participate in the arts in Carmel and take classes. It is a reminder of the book Imitation of Life, and I enjoyed reading more about how Japanese Americans were treated even before the internment camps of World War II.

If you like historical fiction set during the roaring twenties, murder mysteries, and stories with creative characters, then you should love The Artist Colony.  

Disclosure:  I received a paperback copy of The Artist Colony from the publisher (She Writes Press) via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

Thank-you for allowing me to be a part of the tour!

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

IndieBound affiliate link
Remember to shop your local Indie bookshop!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


Happy Tuesday, My Lovelies!  We spent the weekend putting away all things Christmas and tidying-up.  We decorated a little for Valentine's Day, and I also put together a little winter vignette on my work table.

I shopped our attic for this display.

I wasn't quite ready to put away the little glittery, snowy trees I made at our ECW event.

I love peonies, even fake ones.

I still have plenty of room on the left side for most projects.  I needed the entire surface when it was my Christmas wrapping station, but for the next couple of months, I will probably only use it to arrange flowers.

What have you been up to lately?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill


Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm reviewing one of my very favorite Christmas books I've ever read: Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan.

According to Goodreads:

“A heartfelt and lovely Christmas tale for book lovers everywhere!”—Jenny Colgan, author of The Bookshop on the Shore
In small-town England, two booksellers facing tough times decide to spread some Christmas cheer through the magic of anonymous book deliveries in this uplifting holiday tale for book lovers everywhere.

Nora and her husband, Simon, have run the beautiful oak-beamed book shop in their small British village for thirty years. But times are tough and the shop is under threat of closure--this Christmas season will really decide their fate. When an elderly man visits the store and buys the one book they've never been able to sell, saying it's the perfect gift for his sick grandson, it gives Nora an idea. She and Simon will send out books to those feeling down this Christmas. Maybe they can't save their bookstore, but at least they'll have one final chance to lift people's spirits through the power of reading.

After gathering nominations online, Nora and Simon quietly deliver books to six residents of the village in need of some festive cheer, including a single dad of twins who is working hard to make ends meet, a teenage boy grieving for his big sister, a local Member of Parliament who is battling depression, and a teacher who's newly retired and living on her own. As the town prepares for a white Christmas, the books begin to give the recipients hope, one by one. But with the future of the bookshop still up in the air, Nora and Simon will need a Christmas miracle--or perhaps a little help from the people whose lives they've touched--to find a happy ending of their own....

My favorite quote from the book.

My review:

The main characters and the couple who own the bookstore, Nora and Simon, are absolutely precious.  I love them so much!  They are on the verge of losing their Cotswolds bookshop to the bank, and yet they decide to give a book to six individuals who need to be uplifted during Christmas.  Their community nominates deserving villagers via social media, and Nora and Simon select winners from the nominees.  They enjoy choosing which six books to give away, and the one stipulation is that each book must be set during Christmas.  One reason they enjoyed their task so much is due to the wine and chocolate consumption during the process.  They carefully wrap each book in brown paper and select the winners.

The next morning, a little hungover yet anxious to deliver the books to the winners, Nora and Simon realize that they forgot to label the wrapped books: They have no way to match the recipient with a book unless they unwrap them, and they decided to let fate determine who gets which book.  What I love most about the plot is that miraculously each person receives the perfect book for his or her circumstances: It's a Christmas miracle!  There are also other miracles in the story, but I'm unwilling to share those spoilers.

Another thing to love about this book is the Christmas Book List for the winners:

  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
  • A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
  • The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern 
(The classic It's a Wonderful Life was based on The Greatest Gift.)

This novel makes me want to read all of these books.  I might do it next Christmas, but first I want to find a copy of The Greatest Gift.

Not just a cozy Christmas read (it was),  it's literary in that books are discussed, characters are very well developed, and the sense of community in the Village of Stoweford is heart-warming.  If you love books, indie bookshops, unforgettable characters, and Christmas you will love this book.  Added bonus: the bookshop's dog is a Westie named Merry!  I highly recommend it.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

IndieBound affiliate link
Please remember to support your local Indie Bookshop.  They are so important to our communities! 

Did you read a book with a Christmas setting during the holidays?

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

the favorite

Hello, My Lovelies!  For today's What I'm Reading Wednesday post I thought I'd help you plan a winter book club ...