Aug 15 2019

Art Journal Weekend!!!

June 4th-7th 2020
Art Journal Weekend
with artists Pam Garrison & Michelle Allen!

Registration Opens Nov. 1 at noon (PST).
We are offering early bird registration (10AM (PST))  for those who sign up on our newsletter.
Limited space, only 8 spots available.

This enchanting weekend will be hosted by Michelle and Pam in Michelle’s beautiful home, located in the Portland, Oregon metro area (Vancouver, WA).
This event is open to beginners and art journal aficiandos alike! Everyone is welcome –  treat yourself!

Join us for a long weekend full of inspiration, connection, laughing, art instruction, yummy food and being spoiled.
Fall in love with all Art Journaling has to offer!

This is an all-inclusive event! All materials for art journal making and creating in the journals themselves will be included! 🙂

In addition to creating your beautiful journal, we will also visit a few of our favorite places in Portland, OR, such as taking in the charm of art-journaling at a local winery, and getting a behind-the-scenes look of owning and operating an art-based business. You will also receive endless access to the art studio, to explore techniques and get creative!

Make new friends & spend time with like-minded creatives!

Professional artists, Michelle Allen and Pam Garrison, are passionate about creating, especially in their Art Journals, and they can’t wait to share their love of art journaling with you!


When: June 4th-7th 2020
Registration Opens Nov. 1 at noon (PST). We will do an early bird registration at 10AM for those who have signed up on our newsletter.
Only 8 spots will be available.

Where: This enchanting weekend will be hosted by Michelle and Pam in Michelle’s beautiful home, located in the Portland, Oregon metro area (Vancouver, WA).

Price: $1300 all inclusive, per person
*there are 3 queen-sized bedrooms (one with it’s own bathroom, and the other two share a jack & jill bathroom). There is also one king-size bedroom with it’s own bathroom. Sharing a bed will be required. so bring a friend, or make a new one! 
*airfare and travel not included

Sign up for Early Bird Registration HERE.


Aug 12 2019

Garden Gate Mural Painting

Painting a mural has been on my “list” for a very, very long time.
Several weeks ago I decided I just needed to go for it and not over-think it.

My small side gate seemed like a good place to start.

I began by taking a picture of my gate and doing the design in ProCreate on my iPad.
Which worked out great for choosing colors that went well with my existing fence and house.
Then to Home Depot I went!

And I was SO not prepared for this!
In hindsight, I bought  WAY too much paint.
The quarts were quite the overkill as I didn’t use a entire sampler size in a single color.

I set up my camera and was going to video the process but realized a good 30 minutes into it that it only recorded about 3 minutes of me painting. ugh, next time.

Look at how happy I am to be finally doing this. 😉
I believe a lot of my fear and procratination on projects like these comes from the possibility of not being happy with the finished product and having to spend time redoing them. I really need to get over this mindset.

All finished. I love how bright and cheery it ended up.
Hopefully my neighbors all like it too. haha! 🙂

Jul 5 2017

DIY Art Making Travel Bag

i love creating art in different places: a friend’s house, an art retreat, a blanket in the park.
the best way to be able do this i’ve found, is by having a designated art travel bag. easy to grab and go when inspiration hits.

the local craft stores never seemed to have all that i was looking for. so i had to create my own!

i ended up going to home depot/lowe’s (can’t remember which one) to find a tool bag.
something close, but may even be better, is this one I found here or here.
whichever one you decide on, make sure it’s a material that is porous and will accept the paint.

• first you’ll want to remove all labels, or pieces you don’t want showing, with small scissors or a seam ripper.
• next, i would recommend gesso‘ing it. which is basically priming it and will help the paint stick. to be honest, i didn’t and my bag is still fine many years and lots of use later. but, i may have just gotten lucky.
• then i just used all different kinds of acrylic paints and started layering colors and markings.
• when the paint was dry i used permanent ink to make smaller details. and then more paint again. the more layers the better is what i say!
• for the little flower on the pocket i used some felt and stitched it together first before using E6000 and gluing it to the bag.

once you’re all done it’s time to LOAD it up and go make art!
if you end up making yourself one i would sure love to see it.

happy art making friends!


Mar 24 2016

My daughter’s Bridal Shower

i seriously can’t believe i’m even old enough to have a daughter getting married… but I DO!!!
she’s almost 21, her and her fiancé are both graduating college in May and are planning to marry in June.
they seem so young. but, i was 20 when i got married, and we’re still married… happily. thankfully.
we are excited for them and proud of them both.

dessert bar wedding shower
i’ve never planned a party like this before. let me just say, pinterest makes party planning easy AND hard at the same time! we did a dessert bar with chocolate fondue. the sweet love banner i made from old doily coasters that i stamped on and then taped to a ribbon.

allen girls wedding shower
me and my sweet girls before the festivities commenced. (thank you mom for insisting on the pic!)

signs handmade diy
i used white gel pens to make the little signs for the tables.

dessert bar partymacarons dessert bar
the bride-to-be herself made these beautiful french macarons.

mimosa bar party
inspired by this i just had to do a mimosa bar. i scoured thrift shops for pretty glasses instead of buying plastic ones for close to the same price, and it worked out perfectly. it was super fun and interactive! i’ll definitely be doing this again.

bridal party shower decorparty decor rustic
we had the party in the upstairs of our Allen Designs studio so the lights and tassels were already set up, which was really nice. it just adds to the party feel instantly.

doily hanging crochet art
i’ve had this piece pinned on pinterest for a long, long time and throwing this party was the perfect reason to make it finally happen.

mimosa bar wedding showerbridal shower party decorwedding shower decorationsfood bar wedding showerfuture bridebridal bingo wedding showerparty favors bridal shower
it was a lovely time and my daughter was immensely blessed. i couldn’t ask for anything more.

Jul 20 2015

Painting in Color Workshop— MEXICO!!!

I am so excited about this opportunity to share my love of creating, explore Oaxaca, Mexico and spend time with like-minded people! Not to mention teach alongside the prolifically talented and fabulous Sunny Carvahlo (check out her work and her workshop post here)! We would LOVE to have you join us on this adventure!


Kathie Vezzani, also an artist, has been organizing culinary trips to Mexico with Culinary Adventures, Inc. and Marilyn Tausend for the past twenty years with chefs such as Rick Bayless, Diana Kennedy, Susana Trilling (from Oaxaca), Roberto Santibanez, and the late Elaine Gonzalez. Additionally, she tested recipes for Tausend’s last three Mexican cookbooks. Kathie’s tours combine two of her passions, food and art.

Joining her as she has with Culinary Adventures’ tours, is Ane Elena Martinez, a pastry chef from Puebla who coordinates details in Mexico.

Together with their many friends and contacts in Oaxaca, they have planned a once in a lifetime experience for us!




Trip will include:

• Painting and creating with Sunny and myself all week!!!
• “Welcome” fiesta
• Cooking lesson at Seasons of My Heart Cooking School with Susanna Trilling
• Market Tour
• Visits to artisans- black pottery and alebrijes
• Visit to museum and paper making demonstration
• Art supplies
• Transportation within Oaxaca
• Time to explore Oaxaca and its many artful offerings
• Opportunity to sign up for massages and/or a temazcal
• And, best of all… a new ART TRIBE!!!

Click HERE for more information 🙂

Jun 11 2013

how to make your camera strap fun!

i was tired of my plain ol’ black uncomfortable camera strap and wanted to create something with more comfort and “cuteness factor”. i’m not much of a sewer, so I would consider this a pretty simple tutorial.

camera_strap_diy_tutorialcamera_strap_tutorial_diywhat you’ll need:

  • muslin: about ¼ yard
  • decorative fabric: 1/8 yard (or leftover fabric strips)
  • thin fleece: 1¼” wide x length of camera strap + 1″
  • colored felts: couple sheets
  • medium sized hard bristle brush
  • acrylic paint: raw umber, orange or color combinations of your choice.
  • small beads(optional)

everything is easily available at your local Michaels( or Jo-Ann Fabrics(

make_a_camera_strapto start, take your camera strap off. camera straps can come in different sizes. measure it. (measure up to where the strap meets the leather.) add a bit more than a ¼” to each side and ½” to each end. then, tear your strips of muslin to those dimensions. you will need to tear 2 pieces per strap. don’t worry about being perfect; it actually looks cool if one of the pieces is a hair smaller or larger.

camera_strap_making_diy_tutorialnow we’re going to work on the back. take the same measurements and take your pretty fabric and tear it. you could also panel together some smaller pieces for fun like i did in the photo on the 2nd one from the bottom. then cut your strip of fleece about 1¼” wide.

sewing_camera_strapnow take just your backside, not your muslin, and pin your fleece down the center. i started with stitching right down the center so i could determine about how many stitched lines on each side i could fit in. to add a cute little detail, i actually did the reverse stitch several times down each line. now take your time and really watch the fleece. it likes to move around, even with it pinned down.

make_camera_strap_diypick your coordinating felt colors and have some fun! i chose simple circles with some alternating colors. remember: you are going to be stitching in on each side just a bit over ¼”, so don’t get too big.

DIY_camera_strapafter you have circles all laid out where you want them, go ahead and mark where they go with a pencil. there is no need to pin them because you’ll end up taking it out anyways!

how_to_camera_strapusing your free form/motion on your sewing machine, take your two-piece circles and starting in the middle, doodle your flowers or whatever you choose on your two pieces of muslin. take your time to watch the smaller circle so it stays flat. have fun and don’t be afraid to be messy. messy in repeat is organized pattern that doesn’t look messy anymore!

now you’re going to sew the front and back together. i like the frayed edges so I don’t turn mine inside out. make sure to check your camera strap to your fabric one last time to see how far in to sew. you don’t want to get too close to the edges nor be too loose on the strap

camera_strap_how_tomix Raw Umber and Azo Gold(or colors of your choice) acrylics with quite a bit of water to get an antique brown that I just love. you can also just use a good orangy brown. then, loosely brush it around all the circles leaving a rough ¼” of original muslin. don’t worry about covering every square inch, it will add character. i’m sorry i don’t have a better picture of this stage. if you need to, take a paper towel afterward to soak up the extra moisture.

camera_strap_making_blogtake the colored acrylic paint and again, loosely paint it on with a large hard bristle brush. leave areas of the brown to show through. i say “large dry bristle brush” because that way you can’t be too perfect! you shouldn’t have to water it down since you will already have so much moisture on your strap. also be sure to hit spots on the outside of the seam, this will help the muslin from fraying more than you want it to.

finish by hand sewing some beads on and you’re ready to make you’re camera oh so pretty.

making_camera_strap_colorful_tutorialputting on the new strap: tape the end of your strap to the end of a paintbrush and work your strap through your cover. you might have to “cup” your strap a bit to get it in but there should end up being a bit of give in your fabric by the end of it. if your cover seems too long for your strap it’s supposed to be that way. it will soon bunch up a little and you want it to be long enough to still cover the strap.

if you end up making one i would LOVE to see what you come up with!!!

good luck and if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comment section and i’ll answer them. 🙂

Apr 13 2013

my art bag and it’s contents

i love creating art in different places; a friend’s house, an art retreat, etc.
the best way to be able do this i’ve found, is by having a designated art travel bag.

allen designs art bag monogram
the local craft stores never seemed to have all that i was looking for.
so i ended up going to home depot/lowe’s (can’t remember which one) to find a tool bag.
it was hideous and very manly.
as curly girl designs says, “i am fairly certain given a cape & a nice tiara, i could save the world”-
for me it should read, “given paint and a paint brush i could change the world!”.

artist michelle allen art bag
as you can see- over time a LOT OF paint has been added!

art bag whimsical travel art journal
i also took a box cutter and removed some of the inside separators that I didn’t need and were just going to get in the way.

art travel bag artist michelle allen
my friend Janne and i strongly believe that “arting” should be a word. right?!?!

traveling art bag tote painter artist
i love all the outside pockets on this bag.

art journal travel bag
over the past few years i’ve worked it’s contents down to my personal arting essentials.

what's in my art bag

arting bag colorful travel carry all artist
and there you have it.
that’s what’s in my bag.
obviously, you could make a bag like this for all sorts of hobbies- scrap-booking, sewing, crocheting, beading etc.
do you have one? if so, how does it differ? what’s in your bag?


Dec 11 2012

free & fun Christmas Card Templates!

if you’re still looking to send out your christmas cards,
here are some fun & free templates you can use with your own photos!
just follow our step by step instructions below,
if you have questions post in the comments and we’ll help as best we can.

STEP 1: You will need to download Photoshop if you don’t already have it. There is a free trial here that you can use.

STEP 2: Download our free card templates here and open the one you want to use in Photoshop.

STEP 3: Drag and drop your photo into the folder titled Your Photo Here.

STEP 4: If your photo is too large use the marquee tool (M) to select and delete any parts of the photo that go beyond the template.

STEP 5: Get it printed! (Costco & Walgreens are two options)

hope you are enjoying the season so far!  xo-m

Dec 10 2012

fun Christmas Card Templates!

i know- this is going to be too late for many of you…
since i’ve received several christmas cards in the mail already.
but, for all of us- slower, not as organized peeps- these are for you!

so, tomorrow i will be posting some FREE christmas card templates to use with your pictures & have printed at places like costco & walgreens!
below are some examples of the these fun, artsy designs.

Nov 30 2012

recycled vintage ornament wreath DIY

i made this vintage & recycled ornament wreath probably 5 years ago.
it is my very favorite christmas decoration to pull out every year.
although, not the easiest to store away. 

angel is by renowned american folk artist debbee thibault.

for this project you will need:

a good 3-4 hours!
glue gun & plenty of glue sticks
styrofoam wreath (i used a 17″ flat not rounded one for mine)
lots and lots of ornaments, different sizes all the way down to minis if possible 
and fabric 

1. start by wrapping your wreath with strips (anywhere from 2″-5″ strips will work) of fabric and securing, fabric to fabric, with hot glue.

2. at this point you’ll want to tie a ribbon around the wreath for hanging.

3. then began hot gluing ornament after ornament on the top first, then move to the sides of the wreath. i started by gluing larger ones first saving the smaller ones to fill in the gaps later.

**make sure as you’re going along that it sits flat on your table as that is how it will hang on the wall.
**i tried to apply glue on as many sides that I can,  giving it as much security as possible.

 this is a wreath i made for my momma a few years ago…

have fun!
and i’d LOVE to see yours when your done!

Oct 14 2012

photo cards

with the holiday season right around the corner,
i figured i should remind you of what you can do with all those photo christmas cards this year.
this is a great DIY way to organize and keep memories of those families you want to remember year to year.

all you need is a hole punch and some rings.
punch some holes (the same width apart), and put them together!

last year i took the pretty top off another christmas card and used it as my cover.

i bring them out every year and they’re always getting looked at by us and by our guests.
this whole thing literally took me about 10 minutes.

and- no, i’m not a hoarder 

Oct 9 2012

the best pumpkin pancakes ev-eh!

until a few days ago i had never made nor had pumpkin pancakes.
i didn’t realize what i was missing!

i found this recipe from annie’s eats -and it is delish.
(her recipe didn’t call for allspice but i didn’t have the ground ginger or cloves. not really sure if allspice covers those but it sounded good.)

i doubled the recipe and it made enough to feed 5 big eaters with a few left over.
and i did end up having to add some water just cause the batter was so thick.

my kids said they were the best pancakes they’ve ever had.
crazy huh.

have you had them?
am i the last to know about these things?

Oct 8 2012

yummy pumpkin acorn cupcakes

 i was inspired by my last post about the fall cupcakes i made a few years ago.
wanting to see what they’d look like a little more… um, less blue.

i wrangled my oldest into helping me, since she is a much better baker than i.
bake it pretty cupcake liners

she found this recipe from mini baker for the pumpkin cupcake portion, and it is AWESOME!

cream cheese frosting.

for the acorns i heated the little caramels up in the microwave just enough to make them pliable.
then hand formed them into somewhat-acorn shapes.
dipped the cap part in some melted chocolate and then rolled them in the chocolate sprinkles.
simple and relatively quick.

i think i like the white frosting a little better than the slightly toxic blue.
maybe i’m just finally growing up?
well… probably not.

Apr 19 2012

old rug dinosaur pillow

since moving into my new studio i’ve been trying to work through items i’ve been hanging onto for future projects.

you know “those things”…  you have them too. right?
this old rug was one of mine.
YEARS, i’ve been moving it from one place to another!

when jolie gave me this awesome dino screen print she did in my workshop
i knew it would be a perfect compliment to this rug i had been saving.

the juxtaposition of the dinosaur and the pink & red pillow base just makes me smile.
i also love the woven texture that the rug brings.

first, i used the fused webbing stuff to adhere the screen print to the rug.
then stitched around it with the sewing machine.
the rug was the perfect size to just fold over so i would only have to stitch three sides…
which ended up being a good thing since i broke my needle and ended up having to do that part by hand!
the one thing i would have done different would have been to put the fringe on the side instead of on the bottom.
but oh well, it’s good enough and, it’s COMPLETED!

it feels so good to get a project done!

p.s. stay tuned for a giveaway tomorrow!

Mar 26 2012

washi tape & pesky cords tutorial

do you have any of those items with really annoyingly long cords?
either they’re in the way or even just an eyesore.

this has been mine of late.
and finally, today i took a couple of minutes to do something about it.

i don’t need it to be very long so all i did was gather it up back & forth till it was the length i needed.
then i took a few pretty colors of washi tape and begun wrapping it around and around.
i would recommend several rotations so that the cord doesn’t end up tearing out of the tape.

ahhhhh. all better.
not just organized and clean but even fetching!
sometimes, it’s the simplest of accomplishments that make me the happiest.

Mar 15 2012

st. patrick’s day cupcake toppers!

st. patrick’s day is already almost here!
these cute & funky st. patrick’s day cupcake toppers are ones that i previously designed for a party.
i’ve included the free downloads for them at the bottom of this post.
i haven’t quite gotten around to this years yet… not sure if it’s going to happen.

do you have any big plans/traditions for st. patty’s day 2012?

download free st. patrick’s day clover cupcake topper.
download free st. patrick’s day frog cupcake topper.