Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida a review + giveaway!

Great beginner sewing book

I should start this by saying even if this was the worse book ever (note: it’s not!) I still may have given it a glowing review. I am a bit biased because it’s by the talented Sanae Ishida and my business partner + great friend Michelle P. shot the cover! So I was predisposed to loving it. Sewing Happiness just happens to be an amazing book too!  I love, love the format of the book–a hybrid memoir + craft book. I want all my ‘how-to’ books to be written this way. For the sewist there’s plenty of great projects (even a novice sewer as myself could partake). Each project is, meaning that you would willingly part with good money to buy one of the finished goods in a store. I had no doubt the finished book (which both Michelle and I got to work on see here and here), would be a beauty, but I was truly floored when we got our copies and thumbed through it, each page is more gorgeous than the next, it’s so organized, well presented and it’s huge, there’s 20 projects and over 300 pages! We immediately sent an email of congrats to Sanae and then a second email to her publisher so we could ask for a copy to giveaway to you.

Who would like this book? Well, the obvious would be a sewist, next up would be anyone interested in styling, there are too many perfect vignettes to count, I am using mine as a reference  tool, of course the photography is aces a great tool to study how a great craft book can be shot, we are talking inspiration for miles here and of course anyone who loves a good feel good story, spoiler alert it has a a happy ending!

To enter to win one copy of Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida, please answer the following question in the comments by Sunday, May 29, 2016. Winner will be chosen by random and notified the following day!  Good luck!

If someone offered you a book deal today, what would you want your book to be about?

I know what Michele and I would want ours to be about…

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

DIY Abstract Art Made Simple!

DIY abstract art made simple via besoted blog

I have been wanting to try my hand at an abstract art piece using acrylic paints for some time, but felt overwhelmed on where to start. I did have some supplies on hand, I was gifted a small acrylic tube set 3 years that sat unopened (more on that later), I had some craft paint, a wood cradled art board and heap of indecision. Where the heck does one even begin to start?  If you have wanted to do this and are feeling the same way I was, I hope that this little resource and tip post will help you make the move to get started-DIY abstract art made simple!

So where did I start?  I found a few DIY’s, but being me, I don’t always ‘get’ it the first time (or second or 3rd).  I then found a few online classes and that helped me have a few light bulb moments BUT the single most important moment for me was the realization that if I hated my painting, I could just paint over it and build more ‘texture’ in the process, it made the whole intimidating process so much more accessible.  So this is how I did it!


-I pulled out my wood artboard and taped the sides with painters tape (I knew I wanted the finished piece to have the exposed birch wood sides)

-I found a few palette ideas I liked on Pinterest, I have a whole board for blush, peachy and nudes so plenty of palette muse there! I am a bit of a color-phobe, so my palette was very limited-2 whites, a dark umber brown (almost black), ochre, a deep orange that was blended into a dark peach and a sheer pink.

-In hindsight, I should have gessoed my board (this is just a way to prime your board for painting), but I just painted a couple coats of white acrylic on the wood and let dry.

-I started with ONE color at a time over my white surface. I squeezed a dollop of color and used a credit card (you could use an old library card, a palette knife, etc.) and I started to ‘scrape/paint’ with the card to create texture and ‘strokes’ (I deliberately tried to avoid too straight of edges, but if you wanted that look go for it). I would wait for the color to dry if I wanted just that one color, if I wanted colors to blend with each other I wouldn’t let them dry completely before adding other colors on top of the existing colors.

-After I laid down several colors and let them dry, I would add a wash of white over the painting, again with the credit card. Since the credit card method is a little unpredictable I would have some spots where I would press too hard and color from underneath would be revealed (I loved this!).

-I worked for a week in between toddler naps, in 10-15 minute increments which may seem like FOREVER to someone as impatient as myself but this allowed me to step back and assess my work and where I was going.  Also, it prevented me from rushing the white washes and just creating a muddled mess!

-I could have kept going, but at some point I wanted my kitchen countertop back so I stopped myself. I am super happy with the results and I can’t wait to try a larger piece and some backdrops for our photography!

In conclusion, I LOVED this project, it wasn’t the fastest to come together, besides the mess of acrylics, it was a pretty easy going and relaxed DIY. Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments, I’d be happy to answer them!

P.S. For those people that think a project like this may take a sale away from a ‘real’ artist, I am going to put my 2 cents in here and say this–maybe YOU dear reader are a ‘real’ artist and don’t know it yet, maybe a DIY like this is the key to opening up a whole new world of exploration for you and maybe you’ll find yourself a new career path or a new hobby or just make yourself a beautiful piece of artwork that you can be proud of. To everyone that just wants to be creative hats off to you!



Large abstract with a credit card

Acrylic paint series with Lisa Solomon (this is super in depth, you don’t need this for this project but good if you want to keep going with this)


This is a GREAT step-by-step, color by color, stroke-by-stroke if you feel you need extreme hand holding

Easy Abstract Art step-by step

DIY Abstract with gold leaf

Super simple abstract art tutorial

5 step abstract art

An working artists shares his techniques


Gesso (for priming your art surface)

Acrylic paints student grade (if your supplies aren’t too precious it’s more likely to be used more freely)

Acrylic paints professional grade

Craft paints

Acrylic tubes used in piece (I used these) they are beautiful but super transparent and probably not made for large scale painting (but fun!)

Wood art board (these are awesome because you can just hang when you are finished, no additional framing needed: small / large

Pre-primed wood art panels (a large panel 36″ x 38″ is only $125USD!)

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

The Making of a Jess Brown Doll Part I

kiki and coco go to paris via besotted blog ii

My toddler daughter and I are currently having a major love affair with the Nina Gruener & Stephanie Rauseer books Lulu & Pip and Kiki & Coco in Paris. They are simple stories that are easy for young ones to memorize, the photos are visual treats and the ‘co-star’ the Jess Brown doll is now a hugely wanted commodity in our abode. I did a little research and the designer Jess Brown wrote a book and describes her process and there’s even a template to re-create a version of her doll!Read More

Realistic painting effects in Photoshop

digital painting sam andy warhol reference via besottedblog

digital painting details

Michelle and I have been working on a project together which included painting, something I have little (to no) skill in. What I do have is an aptitude for Photoshop so I decided to take my meager painting skills and try my hand at digitally ‘painting’.  My first efforts were, ‘ok’, Michelle decided we needed a studio tablet, so she promptly ordered one and I started playing. That’s where my rabbit hole begins–one little thing leads to another, that leads to another… I realized quickly that I needed to find some artistic brushes that would mimic the strokes of a real brush. I downloaded some free ones but quickly found they didn’t look any better than the default ones. You can change settings for brushes to achieve all sorts of realistic effects (it’s a TON of research and trial and error), but I have been too chicken to, what if I change my brush settings and can never get them back again? Well, friends lucky for me (and you), a mad creative genius created a huge arsenal of Photoshop brushes and he pre-programmed ALL the settings so you don’t have to think you just have to use. I mean they are seriously goof proof. You can play with digital gouache (you know the type of paint that the internet is coo coo for? Think Rifle Paper co.), there’s even brushes that mimic pencils and charcoal and so many other art supplies that I was going a little batty deciding which set to choose from!  A little side note here, I am not very familiar with all the effects different ‘real’ art supplies achieve, so if you do know, you are going to have a little bit of a leg up on the individual that doesn’t, but experimenting for me is half the fun so I didn’t mind trying the brushes out to see the different effect. Btw, these work great for lettering as well!  So many possibilites!

I re-created this image of ‘Sam’ from Andy Warhol, because my daughter has been obsessed lately with a story about Andy Warhol’s 23 cats named Sam (a true story). I loved how charming and quirky the Sam portraits were so I tried the new brushes with Sam in mind. I am a total newbie at drawing and painting so I love to have something I can reference. Apprentices used to copy the masters to get down techniques, so I figured why not?  I am not good at tracing (super wobbly hand and there’s that whole attention span issue), so I just free-handed the outline with the tablet using my reference image as I worked. I did ‘paint’ Sam in using the mouse, because even though the brushes are specifically made to be used with a tablet, I wanted to see if you could get good results with a mouse (and you can!)  I think these brushes will open up a whole new creative world for me and are perfect for everyone from the hobbyist painter to the professional illustrator. If you had any interest in illustration, I think these are an amazing asset to add to your art supply arsenal.


Realistic digital painterly effect brushes Gouache | Watercolor | Dry media (like pencils, chalk, crayons) | Mega Pack (a variety of digital art supplies to test)

Watch Kyle the maker of the brushes paint demo!

Wacom tablet entry level | intermediate level | pro level

Featured script font

Uncle Andy’s Cats

23 cats named Sam

Watercolor for designers (learned so much about shading in this easy to follow class)

Gouache for Illustrators class (nice to see gouache being demoed)

Free on-line life drawing classes

If you have any questions let us know in the comments!  Have you tried these brushes before?  Do you have any other recommendations?

P.S. You can get 3 months of Skillshare for .99 here. That’s plenty of time to take a TON of classes;)

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

Print your photos |Off your device and on to your walls!

Frame your photos from your phone via besotted blog

There’s not a whole lot I hate more than physically framing my own photos (Michelle concurs). There’s something so annoying about pulling up all those little sharp tabs, sliding your image in the frame only to find after you finally secured everything that you have a piece of dust, fingerprint or what have you stuck between the image and the glass, time to start all over again with those sharp little tabs. What’s that? You spotted something shiny? Your toddler just put something suspicious in her mouth? The dog got into the garbage again? So much for framing best intentions…until that is we came across Instantly Framed. This is one of those companies where you secretly wish you came up with the idea, an app that allows you to both print and frame your Instagram/mobile photos in super high quality (they even wait for the photo to cure before attempting the dreaded framing bit), gloriously large 12″ x 12″ frames, $65 usd, with free shipping, a 3 day turnaround as well, it’s time to add to the gallery wall!

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.