Inspired by | Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk

Can you believe it’s September already? It’s been raining cats and dogs over here, so it honestly feels like Autumn too. I’m hopeful though that there are still some days to come with enough dry spells to enjoy a cup of tea in the yard with a bit of journaling or reading on the side.

So today’s the 10th, and that means Riikka and I have a new Inspired by to share with you! This time the theme is:

Marsha Valk | Nathalie Kalbach Artful Adventures book

Artful Adventures in Mixed Media by Nathalie Kalbach

As you may know, Nathalie is a friend, and I did not buy this book. Receiving it was one of the perks of being part of her Creative Squad, but I’m sure you know me well enough to know that I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it.

Artful Adventures in Mixed Media (aff. link) is a book full of stories, prompts, tips, instructions as well as mixed media techniques to get the creative juices flowing.

This book can not only help you get an enormous amount of creative inspiration and mojo out of your next vacation/trip, it also encourages you to explore nature, your neighbourhood and it gives helpful pointers on what to look for in museums and galleries.

Nat also shares about being inspired by books and movies, extraordinary people and artistic friends.

The book covers all the things Riikka and I regularly do here with Inspired by, and more: It’s is very much about Nat’s journey into art, and she shares a lot about who and what inspires her personally.

I especially enjoyed reading about her travels and looking at her personal photos.

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

Taking notes

I found the book incredibly inspiring, and I read it like a textbook, taking notes from the first to the last page.

You can really get a lot out of it if you decide to go deep. I plan to work my way through the assignments in the book, starting with chapter one.

I created a new Pinterest board especially for Artful Adventures, bought a small Traveler’s Notebook and gathered supplies for art making on the go (that I’ve yet to use off the premises, but… at least it’s ready to go!).

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

My first focus is on my own neighbourhood and the city I live in.

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

Following the prompts in the book, I created a checklist of things I want to see and do, that I now carry with me in the new notebook that lives in my purse.

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

I’m also taking note of events that are happening in the city.

Not that I didn’t do that before, but there are plenty of annual events that we always intend to go to, but in the end never attend because of life, laundry or another lame excuse…

The fact is that if you don’t make time for adventures, they just won’t happen!

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

I’m also embarrassed to say that Amersfoort is a beautiful old city and I’ve hardly visited any of the major tourist attractions in all the years I’ve lived here.

I haven’t even been to all the local museums yet. It’s ridiculous! But I’m doing everything to correct that!

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

The result

I don’t have anything to show you except photos. Ironically I haven’t felt like creating anything for weeks now… I seem to be far more interested in being outside in nature, out and about in the city and visiting museums. Which is exactly what Nat suggests in the book, and I trust that the creating will follow eventually.

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

So… whilst I’m exploring the city, you can have a look at what inspiration Riikka picked up on her family trip to London.

Or you can go here to Nat’s blog, where I shared what I created after an Artful Adventure in Amsterdam last month!

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk Inspired by is a blog series by my friend Riikka and I. We decide on a theme (and that theme can be anything from a film, a book, a painting, to an item, colour scheme or material), and then we create something with that theme or thing in mind.

We keep what we’re making a secret until reveal day on the 10th when we show you and each other our creations.

Inspired by | Deko

Inspired by: a monthly challenge by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk

Oooh, it’s November 10th already! Which means I have another instalment of Inspired by to share with you!

Inspired by is a monthly challenge my friend Riikka and I started over 3 years ago. We decide on a theme (and that theme can be anything from a film, a book, a painting, to an item, colour scheme or material) and then we create something with that theme or thing in mind.

We keep what we’re making a secret until reveal day on the 10th, when we show you and each other our creations.

For this month’s theme Riikka sent me an envelope that I shared on Instagram.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Deko

In the envelope I found some awesome goodies and… the October issue of the Finnish home decor magazine Deko!

I love all things magazine and I’m especially fond of home decor magazines. Flipping through the magazine I immediately saw plenty of jumping-off points.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Deko

As it happens I also had my own home decor on the brain. This has everything to do with Marie Kondo’s magic tidying up method. I read the book in May and I dove right in: not a thing in my home was left unturned.

After a while I became less of a fanatic and there is still plenty to de-clutter left, but… Loads and loads of stuff was purged and most rooms and closets became a lot more spacious. And although that was the point, it also became painfully clear that some of my stuff and some of the rooms are in dire need of an update.

So if I’m honest, seeing the clean and perfectly styled Scandinavian homes on the magazine pages made me a bit sad. Because I wish I could update everything in a flash. And I just can’t…

I can also partly blame this on Marie Kondo, because after reading her book I became much more conscious about what I buy and even where I buy. In a nutshell I’ve discovered that there really isn’t much stuff that sparks my joy. Also: the stuff that I do think is amazing usually is high quality and doesn’t come cheap.

And then there was something that came up in a conversation I had with Petra last week. We spoke about scrapbooking, journaling and documenting life among other things. I’m not really documenting anything on a regular basis right now. Not in a journal, not in a scrapbook, not in a planner and not even here on the old blog!

Petra gave me more than a couple of things to think about and when I came home I went through my 2015 photo library. I was curious to see what events I had photographed, what events I probably would have scrapbooked in previous years and if there were any photos that would make more sense if there were some words written about them.

Cue Marie Kondo again… In my May/June library there were loads of photos of piles of stuff, tidy shelves and neatly folded towels! And I had a story to go with them!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Deko // scrapbook page

Accompanied by some of the decorative elements that I found in Deko – of course! Like black and white doodled wall paper, yellow accents and blonde wood. I even formatted the text like in a magazine, just because it sparked my joy!

Do you have a favourite home decor magazine? Tell me in the comments, so I can check it out!

Then go to Paperiliitin to see what Deko-inspired project Riikka has created!

I’ll be back later today with an Elizabeth Craft Designs project, so be sure to check that out too, especially if you’re looking for an easy peasy Christmas project to make!

Inspired by | Not Before Sundown / Troll – A Love Story

Inspired by: a monthly challenge by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk It’s the 10th today! And that means Riikka and I have created something with a particular theme or thing in mind again and it’s time to reveal the results in a new Inspired by post!

It has been a while since we read a book to inspire us, so I asked Riikka if she knew a book by a Finnish writer we could choose for this month’s Inspired by and Riikka chose: ‘Not Before Sundown’ by Johanna Sinisalo.

I read the US version of the same book, titled  ‘Troll – A Love Story’ (You can read a full summary of the book in this last link!). Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Troll - A Love Story When Riikka suggested the book, I read the description and I immediately knew that this isn’t a book I would have picked up myself. I’m not drawn to the fantasy genre at all and I had never read an adult fantasy book before. I’ve read the entire Harry Potter series… but that is as close as it gets.

Reading this book, I figured out exactly why I’m not drawn to fantasy books. I can cope with fantasy films, but I can’t cope with fantasy books, because… When it says that a creature looks part cat, part monkey and part human, my brain just freezes up like a troll bathing in sunlight.

And as the book was about this very creature, the fact that I couldn’t figure out exactly what it looked like kept bothering me until the very last page.

What I didn’t realize when we chose this book, was that I would have another disadvantage: the book is interwoven with Finnish folklore. The original title ‘Not Before Sundown’ for instance is a reference to a Finnish song. The song text is in the book, among (semi-)scientific excerpts and I had no way of knowing which parts were fantasy and which were well-known folk tales.

I’m curious to see if Riikka mentions this in her post and if maybe she saw these excerpts in another light.

Don’t be put off by my negative comments about the book. I think it’s well-written and I appreciated the set up, but it just wasn’t for me.

That said… I did have a task: I had to make something with the book in mind!

There was no way in the world that I was going to draw a troll… But fortunately I had put a couple of sticky notes in between some of the pages and there was one passage in particular that had resonated with me.

Ecke, one of the characters, thinks: ‘Odd how there can be cities and cities. Cities within cities. The dogs’ city is built up of smells. (…) Then there are different people’s cities. There’s the city of a certain kind of woman, who judges a street by the kinds of shops there are (…) An alcoholic’s city, on the other hand, consists of pubs, sausage stands, liquor stores, alleys where you can piss without being picked up for indecent behaviour (…) And he doesn’t even notice the designer boutique because it’s got no function for him, just as the fashionable lady doesn’t see that sleazy dive – it doesn’t exist for her.’

So, I started to think about my city and someone else’s city… And I started rummaging: Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Troll - A Love StoryFound this: Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Troll - A Love Story Decided that it wasn’t pretty enough, so I created another map with Stamen: Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Troll - A Love Story … and created this:Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Troll - A Love Story … a double page scrapbook spread about ‘my’ Helsinki! Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Troll - A Love Story This made sense to me, because A. it’s Finland, B. I know the way to the Karl Fazer Cafe, the railway station and a couple of the sights, but I’m oblivious to anything else that’s there and as an extra bonus: C. I was able to incorporate Thickers with a denim print.

This is important because the denim is my only reference to the book. Although in my journaling I also mention Tove Jansson… who of course is famous for books about trolls…

Anyway… I really, really, really want to know about Riikka‘s experience with the book and I can’t wait to see what she’s created. You can visit her here!

Have a wonderful day!

This week on my iPhone


I’ve had a quiet weekend: I’ve been reading and writing, changing and tweaking my blog (not ready yet) as well as doing a little bit of cooking and cleaning.

I’m reading this book on creative photography and I’m taking loads of notes. I can’t wait to try some of the ideas in the book, it’s full of great tips and tricks!

Do not disturb

I’m reading a book… And I’m pretty certain I’m going to finish reading it this time!

I believe I haven’t read a book (fiction) through to the last page in about three years. I used to read all the time and my theory is that it came to a halt when I lost my job (I used to swap books with my colleague Heleen, who is an avid reader) and my daily train commute to work stopped. But to be honest: the introduction of unlimited access to Internet and e-mail via smart phones may also have something to do with it…

Anyway, this one will be read until the very last letter. I’ve rediscovered my ability to enjoy a good book thanks to the first Dutch Twitter reading group @leestweeps, (which prompted this sudden urge to read again) and I’m so glad I did!


… in 1980:

Dertig jaar later heb ik niet eens in de gaten gehad dat het vandaag Palmzondag is, tot ik het zojuist op het journaal hoorde…

Ik heb een fikse verkoudheid, die zich dinsdag aankondigde met een soort algehele traagheid, woensdag traanogen veroorzaakte toen ik naar Hilversum ging voor een marathonsessie bijkletsen bij oud-collega en trouwe bloglezeres Heleen en die ervoor zorgde dat ik op donderdag niet alleen zat te scrappen, maar ook zat te snotteren aan de eettafel van Liesbeth. Vrijdag snotterde ik nog even door en kreeg ik Kevin en mijn broer op bezoek om mijn tergend langzame vorderingen met hun website te bespreken. Ook hebben we trouwringen bekeken op internet en we hebben gezamenlijk besloten dat deze het in elk geval niet worden…

Zaterdag ging het eigenlijk best goed, maar vandaag valt het opnieuw niet mee. Of zou dat komen door dat ene uurtje minder slaap? Hoe dan ook… zaterdag stond ook in het teken van de oud-collega’s. Eerst vond Harold de gloednieuwe, allereerste cd van SundayMoon in onze brievenbus en even later zaten we in opperste staat van paraatheid omdat oud-collega Steffie werd geïnterviewd in het Radio 2-programma Cappuccino! Ze heeft een boek geschreven over het pontje tussen Olst en Welsum. Het komt over twee weken uit en ik ben erg benieuwd naar het resultaat!