Upcycled Weekly Planner

I’m back and it’s time to Shine! Today I have some Artsy Fun for you, upcycled weekly planners. Last year I made happiness journals for my family and friends but accidently bought too many blank planners. I’ve been storing them for a year and decided it’s time to transform them. Now what do you do with an old weekly planner?

Upcycled Weekly Planner Exterior

Upcycled Weekly Planner Exterior

It’s good as a scribble pad, or to use as paper for an art journal, or maybe for gel printing; but I challenged myself to find a way to use the planner intact. As I was contemplating the lines running across the pages and the difficulty of having last year’s dates, I started thinking about washi tape and collage. I realize 52 weeks is a lot of collaging and washi tape but I was determined to do something with these little books, well at least one of them!

For this project you will need:

  • An old weekly planner, it doesn’t need to be completely blank you can either pull out the used
    use a little gesso

    use a little gesso

    pages or gesso over the entries

  • A variety of colors and widths of washi tape, preferably an opaque variety
  • Collage materials
  • Mod Podge or gel medium if you are collaging
  • Brushes

The idea is to cover last year’s dates and create a new journal to play in. Have some fun and get creative! Each journal will be unique. Some pages will work out really well and others not so much. Don’t worry about it! You can always put some gesso over it and start again or build up a few more layers. It all comes out fine in the end.


  • If you are running a single line of washi tape across a span of two pages, gently tear the tape at the join and press it down to each page. This prevents the tape from coming loose in the middle.
  • Use opaque tape or several layers of tape because otherwise you will see the writing underneath (last year’s date).
  • If the tape comes loose use a little white glue, gel medium or Mod Podge on the ends to tack it down.
  • Collage is fun but it takes more time and there’s a chance that the pages will wrinkle.
  • If the cover is plastic or vinyl, use Mod Podge or gel medium to stick down the washi tape.

Some finished pages

Upcycled Weekly Planner Page

Upcycled Weekly Planner Page

Upcycled Calendar interior 4 IMG_7946

Upcycled Weekly Planner Page

UWP interior 3 IMG_7967

Upcycled Weekly Planner Page







Have some fun with this, and remember to Shine, Just Shine!

~ Julie



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Jenine Boisits Helps New Writers Shine

Happy New Year! I’m starting something new this year at Shine, Just Shine. Every month or so I will interview someone who is helping others tap their creativity and Shine.

This month’s interview is with Jenine Boisits. She is an incredibly hard working and dedicated woman who has a passion for encouraging and supporting novice writers. This commitment goes back to 1999 when Jenine created the literary magazine Interview Jenine Boisits head shotBeginnings. The magazine was very popular and well read, unfortunately it had to shut down in 2007 for economic reasons. In 2015, Jenine is set to re-launch Beginnings and its website, dedicated to supporting and publishing novice writers. Join me as I chat with Jenine.

What moved you to start publishing Beginnings again?

It didn’t take much, really.  Dan Welden, a local artist, teacher and author here in Sag Harbor was the one who motivated me. He is an amazing artist and Interview Jenine Boisits promo Beginningsjust a fantastic, giving person who I respect a great deal. He was also my husband’s boss back in 2013. One day I decided to show him some of my old Beginnings issues since he was also a creative person. Not only did he love the idea of the magazine, he thought I should eventually help emerging artists as well! His enthusiasm and encouragement woke that creative spirit in me again! So here I am, seven years later just as excited, and maybe even more so this time around.

In Oliver Peterson’s article in the blog www.danspapers.com, he mentioned that Beginnings had to shut down in 2007 for economic reasons; how have conditions changed to make Beginnings viable this time around?  

Conditions haven’t changed! Just like it didn’t stop me from starting the magazine in 1999, it’s not going to stop me from publishing again 14 years later! I’ve learned a lot from seven years relating to the new writer and because of that I have done my “funding” homework!

How would you describe your vision for the journal? Has your vision changed during Beginnings seven-year hiatus? 

Hopefully, funding will  be a part of our new “beginning,”  because through  grants and/or private donations we can expand our dedication to the new writer through improved online writing workshops, access to professional writers and teachers, more contests, and the best part: publishing more than three times a year!

Are you planning to publish as an online journal or a print journal? Both have challenges, what are some of the biggest you are facing?

I will be publishing a print issue in early summer 2015 unless funding comes in sooner. That’s my one and only obstacle. I’ve never used advertising in the past or have any sort of funding for a variety of reasons. It was a struggle in the early 2000’s trying to produce a quality print magazine without any “start up” money. Since Beginnings is now a 501 3 (c), donations are tax deductible.

We will always have a website because I want to make it an interactive site where writers can use the Forums pages as they have in the past. The Forums page has always been the heart and soul of Beginnings. It was the place new writers discovered they could comfortably post their finished work, or drafts, or just commiserate with other writers. This forum thrived on a camaraderie of kindred spirits who understood that ongoing, personal struggle of becoming better writers. They say writing is a lonely business, but it doesn’t have to be! Sirrus Poe, recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize for his poetry, explains how the Forums helped him become the poet he is today.

Currently we have a Q&A page where readers write in questions about writing or grammar. The questions will be answered weekly by Carol Thomas. We’ll have contests on a regular basis, and we will also be partnering up with STORYMANIA, an excellent writing site that we’ve worked with in the past.

Eventually we will have photography contests and artwork by children and young adults. I am also going to spend a bit more time encouraging young writers because it’s so very important to nurture young minds. Using their imagination to write or draw is especially important now because this generation has a lot of distractions with technology and social media. Writing or drawing is also a very good way to channel the boundless energy of the young into something tangible, something they can be proud of!

Is it difficult to get the word out about starting up again?

No, getting the word out about Beginnings has always been easy. Many writers from the original Beginnings have even contacted me and asked if they could help spread the word.

Are the author forums moderated? Has there ever been any problem with authors ‘stealing’ each other’s ideas?

The forums have always been” moderately” moderated. Sorry, just had to say it that way! This question about authors stealing each other’s ideas, I’ve heard that before but I’ve never actually seen it happen! However, I did have an entire story of mine stolen in high school. The student used a short story of mine that had been published the year before in our school magazine. He used it as one of his own for an English assignment. Now that was BOLD!

Thank you Jenine.

Join Jenine in helping novice writers by getting the word out about Beginnings. Connect with Jenine and Beginnings on Twitter @jennyboisits and at www.literarybeginnings.org

Please leave your comments below. I’d also love to hear your suggestions for people to interview- people who help others tap their creativity and Shine.

~ Julie

Artsy Fun: Get Started!

Today in Artsy Fun I want to share 3 tips to help you get started and move your creative life forward when you’re stuck, frozen or have big time constraints.

1. Doodle. Scribble in fact. I used to do this when I was a kid but didn’t think it was all that useful until Milliande Demetriou’s video series CAPI  got me into it again. One of the exercises is to draw a square on a scrap piece of paper and then, without lifting your pen, do a free-form drawing in the box. Afterward, look at the lines and see if any forms stand out. She suggests going over the interesting bits with a red pencil. Later exercises have you choose one of the interesting forms and play with it, make a few thumbnail squares and try out different compositions with your inspiring form. This is a great way to loosen up and get things started. In fact, this exercise can even generate ideas for a series.

Backgrounds IMG_3722

Artsy Fun: Get Started- Backgrounds

2. No brain power for painting, scrapbooking, Artist Trading Cards or creating in general? No problem. Engage your creativity by making interesting backgrounds. You’ll feel better. Then you will be ready when the muse arrives. Sometimes just playing with colors and textures calls her to you. Sarinda Jones has a fantastic video about using gesso to make interesting backgrounds and Linda Germain has some great stuff about using gelatin printing to make beautiful backgrounds.


3. Get into your Zen-zone by gessoing art journal pages, mod-podging brown paper, swatching out your paints, markers etc. or making a stamper’s reference file of all your stamps and mark making tools. This busy work is part of creating too.

Get started and those creative juices will flow.

Hope this helps you shine today.

~ Julie


Quick and Easy Black Bean Soup

It’s -23C in November!! My brain doesn’t know what to do with this fact. I think it’s frozen. Guess I’d better make some soup. Here’s the recipe for a quick and easy black bean soup. It takes about 10 minutes to make and serves up nicely with fresh bread or fried polenta.

Quick and Easy Black Bean Soup
Serves 3-4
1 can (19 oz) black beans
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (12 oz) of corn or approx. 1 cup frozen corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon of basil or to taste
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon white sugar (to mellow out the acidity in the tomatoes)


  • Drain and rinse beans and canned corn.
  • In a medium sized pot combine diced tomatoes, rinsed black beans and corn.
  • Add olive oil, spices and sugar.
  • Warm gently over medium heat stirring and simmering for about 10 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

Roast Beast

It was a few days before Christmas and we were gathered for a week’s visit at my Dad’s place in the woods. It was snowing gently and I was left, in spite of my protests, in charge of barbequing a large and very expensive prime rib roast. Just so you know, I hate cooking meat. I’ve managed to avoid cooking large pieces of meat very successfully in my 25 years of homemaking and my barbequing skills extend to burning hotdogs. But SOMEONE left me in charge of barbequing this slab of meat. “Don’t worry” he said. “It’s easy” he said. “I will put it on the rotisserie, you just check it in an hour. It’ll be fine.”

Fine. I hoped to do a bit of writing and have a little rest.

So, I was sitting there at the table trying to write. I glanced out the kitchen window, there was a little smoke coming from the barbeque. Nothing to worry about, barbeques smoke.

I continued writing and glanced out the window again. This time there was more smoke. Well, barbeques smoke.

I continued writing, feeling mildly aggravated about being left to tend this chunk of meat. SOMEONE said “check it in an hour.” I was determined to follow instructions, so I ignored the smoke, thinking opening the “oven” too often can ruin the final product. Given my previous experience I didn’t know whether this applied to barbeques or not but, I had my instructions. I looked at my watch, only 20 minutes had passed.

I continued writing and out of the corner of my eye I saw the barbecue engulfed in billows of smoke. I raced outside to find flames shooting out from under the lid. I turned off the gas. Flames were still shooting out. My brains left me and I opened the lid. The entire roast was on FIRE. One glance told the tale. The string binding the roast had burned away, the unbound meat jammed the action of the rotisserie (and burned out the motor) and the layer of fat surrounding the meat provided fuel. I slammed the lid in hopes of smothering the flames.

My initial relief at putting out the fire was extinguished as I realized I have no car and no way of feeding a large and soon to be returning family. Strangely, it was at that moment I panicked.

I heard the snow plow coming down the drive. I ran out, grabbed the snow plow operator (a friend of Dad’s) and made him look at the charred remains of the roast. “Is it burnt all the way through?” I asked. “Do you think it’ll taste burnt if I cut the charcoal off and cook it in the oven?” He looked at me like I was a lunatic and shrugged.

I cut two inches of burnt meat off the outside of the roast and popped it in the oven to finish cooking. The roast was much smaller but still delicious.

To this day, SOMEONE still jokes about his broken rotisserie but NO ONE leaves me in charge of barbecuing.

~ Julie

I’d love to hear any of your epic cooking fail stories in the comments below.


The Power of Ten

The room is a disaster; clothes, toys and books are strewn everywhere. A pile of dishes trembles on the counter. Company or Monday is almost at the door and you’re tired, really tired and tackling it is the last thing you want to do. Then, the solution forms in your head “The Power of 10, I can try The Power of 10!” At least that’s my bloggy fantasy. Now, if you don’t fall over laughing or just pick up the nearest magazine and curl up on your laundry pile , you might want to try The Power of 10.

That was the beginning of my first draft. Sounds like a sales pitch right, even the capitalized name of the technique just begs a person to pitch it. Well, after I wrote the first draft two weeks ago, life happened and I haven’t blogged since. This morning I was  feeling dried out and blah, then I spent 10 minutes playing in my sketch book. “Aha!” I thought, “today is the day to share the rejuvenating Power of 10.” Please forgive me, I decided to go with the pitch, it was too fun to resist.

Let me take you back… It was a dark and stormy night in the midst of parenting. The kids were young and I was inexperienced. The place was a mess and there was no end in sight. Then the idea formed in my mind, we would have a race, the 10-second-tidy. I could probably keep the kids attention that long and get them to pick up 10 things in 10 seconds– long seconds. To my surprise, it actually worked and became an important part of our bedtime routine. Eventually we built up to the 10 minute tidy and managed to maintain it.

Over the years the 10-second-tidy became The Power of 10. It is useful in a wide variety of situations. For example, it’s a gorgeous sunny day, there are a million things to do in the house and you think “I’m going to die if I can’t go out and enjoy the day.” Set the timer for 10 minutes and tackle that report for work, the dishes, your blogging, your art project, practicing the piano or whatever it is you are resisting. In 10 minutes, you will have accomplished something. You will have converted 10 minutes of guilt into 10 minutes of solid effort. Then go outside, enjoy the day and when you come back inside do it again.

The Power of 10 is useful in breaking down huge jobs into manageable parts. You can use it to tackle all sorts of jobs and projects. The secret is that we don’t think of ten minutes as a long period of time. Even hated jobs are tolerable for ten minutes because the end is easily in sight. Not only is The Power of 10 useful in breaking through procrastination, it can be used to push through creative blocks or that no-time-to-create helplessness. 10 minutes can be squeezed into the day between loads of laundry or appointments. 10 minutes of creative play, preparation or even anticipation feels great. It sure beats stressing out!

Over time The Power of 10 turns your wasted time into completed projects and solid skills. Feel the accomplishment! Join me today, try out The Power of 10.

Hope you enjoyed…

Let’s Shine!

~ Julie

Creating an Art Pack to Go

Creating an Art Pack to Go

In my post How Get Creative When You’re Crazy Busy I shared with you some strategies for finding time to be creative when there isn’t a lot of time. Today I thought I’d give you a list of things I put in my art packs.

This little one is a favourite. I’ve used it in airports and it fits so easily in my purse or around my wrist when I hike.

You will need:

  • A small tin of watercolor paints (mine includes a mini brush)
  • A bottle cap from a water bottle or bottle of soda
  • A small pouch to hold things in. If you can’t find one of these with the wrist strap, try a change purse
  • Small pieces of watercolor paper that will fit into your pouch

Here are a few other art packs to go:

This art pack to go is great for those who like to do collage artist trading cards or packing tags.

  • A small tin with a lid (take a small glue stick with you to make sure the tin Tin of Glue and Scissors IMG_3531is the right depth)
  • Small sharp scissors that fit into tin
  • glue stick
  • artist trading card blanks or packing tags or other small sized paper
  • inspiring bits to collage with like magazine photos or words, or bits of string, lace, buttons or other ephemera for your card
  • one strong elastic band (to make sure the lid of the tin stays on!)


My standard art pack to go is a bit bigger. I am both an artist and a writer and I often don’t know what I’m going to want to do so I also have a larger sized art pack to go.

Creating an Art Pack to Go- packs IMG_3523To make one like this you need:

  • A cloth bag
  • Notebook
  • Sketchbook or art journal
  • Pencil case with whatever you like to use to draw, write or art journal. Mine has pens, pencils an eraser, pencil sharpener, gel pens, fine tipped black marker, watercolor pencils or my small tin of watercolors, a water brush, scissors and a glue stick.

The idea is to keep it simple and portable so you don’t have too much stuff to lug around.

I have two sizes of this art pack. The only difference between them is the size of sketchbook, notebook and pencil case and how many pens, pencils etc. they contain. I use the larger one around the house and around town and I use the smaller one when I travel. Remember to take the scissors out if you are taking things in your carry on luggage!

Have fun creating! Thanks for dropping by and ’til next time Shine, Just Shine!

~ Julie

Almond Torte (Gluten Free)

Almond Torte (Gluten Free)

I love desert. I really love desert. My taste buds crave it and my body holds on to every delicious bite. That’s why I decided to skip desert most of the time and make really exceptional deserts for special occasions. This GF Almond Torte has become a family favourite for birthdays and graduations. I used three recipes for inspiration and modified them in method and ingredients. I will include links to the other recipes at the end of the post because they are excellent recipes and I definitely want to give due credit. Enjoy!

Before you start if you want a tall torte that resembles a two layer cake make two of the following. Do not just double the recipe! The bubbles in the egg whites will get crushed by the weight of the extra almond flour.


  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups almond flour (also called almond meal)*

*I’ve tried grinding the almonds in a high powered food processor and, although it worked, there was more prep and cleanup and the flour wasn’t as fine and uniform as it needed to be. I recommend buying it already prepared.

Topping/filling (this can be doubled in the same bowl for the taller torte)

  • 1 generous cup of whipping cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • about 1/8 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/8 cup white sugar or to taste
  • 1 package of Dr. Oetker Whip It Stabilizer for Whipping Cream (optional)*

*this helps the whipped cream last if you aren’t planning on eating the cake immediately

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F

  1. Cut parchment paper circles to line the bottom only of a 10-inch springform pan.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine baking powder and almond flour, mixing with fingers so that no lumps of baking powder or almond flour remain. Set aside until step 8.
  3. Separate egg whites and yolks into two separate mixing bowls.
  4. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and salt and continue to beat on medium-high until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.
  5. In a separate bowl combine egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract. Beat on high speed until the yolks are light and foamy.
  6. Very gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg white mixture taking care not to break the bubbles.
  7. Sprinkle almond flour mixture gently into the egg mixture as you fold to incorporate. At the end of this step the mixture will be fully incorporated yet (hopefully) still light and foamy.
  8. gently pour mixture into springform pan and bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes. Check it at 20 minutes and if the top seems to be browning very quickly, reduce temperature to 335 F and continue baking for the remaining 10-15 min or until a toothpick/knife inserted in the torte comes out clean.
  9. Remove pan from oven and carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan before releasing the springform. Cool.

Almond torte in pan IMG_2736Almond torte single IMG_2738Almond torte two IMG_2743Topping/filling

  1. While waiting for the cake to cool, toast almonds in a small frying pan on medium heat stirring frequently and watching carefully to prevent burning!
  2. Whip cream and stabilizer gradually moving from low to high speed to avoid splatters. Once it starts to thicken add sugar and extracts.
  3. Cover top and sides of cake with whipped cream arranging in decorative peaks and sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.
  4. If making a two layer torte put whipped cream between layers then cover the whole torte with whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.


Hope you enjoy this torte as much as we do! Let me know how the recipe turned out for you in the comments below.

Thanks for dropping by and ’til next time, Shine, Just Shine!

~ Julie

Links to the recipes that inspired me


GF’s and Vegans for Supper, Oh My!

What do you do when you have company coming and need to make something gluten free and vegan? You whip up this delicious Cranberry Pecan Quinoa Salad. It is easy and quick especially if you have some cooked quinoa in the freezer. To conserve time and effort I make a big batch of quinoa in my rice cooker and freeze the leftovers to use in whatever creative shining way occurs to me. If you are using a different brand, wash thoroughly and let drain dry. Otherwise you wind up adding too much water and it turns into a gross mushyIMG_3479 mess. The package says “quinoa is cooked when each grain is translucent and white germ is visible.” My thought is that quinoa should have distinct grains and be translucent and the little white squiggly thing is visible. I snapped a photo to give you the idea. This way of cooking the quinoa gives a nice consistency to the salad. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

TruRoots Cranberry Pecan Quinoa Salad


  • 1 cup of truRoots quinoa (about 2 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans (extra tasty if toasted)
  • 6 TBS (or more) fresh orange juice
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions (1c quinoa : 2 c water. Cook in covered pan for 15 min after it boils. Cool 5 min before serving).
  1. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
  2. Add the cranberries and pecans.
  3. Whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, orange zest, thyme and salt.
  4. Pour the dressing over the quinoa.
  5. Toss and fluff with a fork.
  6. Makes 4 servings.

Although this recipe is on the back of the quinoa package, it isn’t included on the truRoots website www.truroots.com but I thought I’d link to it anyway because it’s a good product.

Let me know if you have any good GF and vegan recipes in the comments below. Thanks for dropping by and ’til next time, Shine, Just Shine!

~ Julie

Black Beans and Rice Camping Style

I hate cooking on vacation! I really hate cooking in the great outdoors. Cleaning the frying pan without lots of easily available hot water and using a cooler instead of a fridge makes it tough. Really tough. This might not be a problem for those who have campers or motor homes but we are tenters. Our sites are gorgeous but have no electricity and you have to walk to get water from a communal tap. This presents a bit of a problem for the chief cook, aka me. It was especially daunting this year because we were camping with one family member who can’t eat gluten, one who can’t eat dairy and another who has other food sensitivities. ARGH!!

Time to shine! I took my no-stick frying pan with me and adapted one of our favourite recipes for an easy-peasy camping meal. It took under fifteen minutes to make the whole meal- including boiling the water! Hope you enjoy it.

Black Beans and Rice Camping Style
Serves 4-5


  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 2 cups of minute rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of basil or to taste
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil (don’t use butter or margarine to fry the beans, it will taste weird)

1. Boil water for rice.

  1. Drain and rinse beans while waiting for water to boil. Draining and rinsing reduces potential gas problems and improves the consistency of the beans.
  2. In a no stick frying pan add about two tablespoons of oil and the rinsed beans.
  3. Add basil and warm gently over medium heat until they are completely warmed. This takes about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally and gently. You can add a bit more oil if they are too dry. You might like to try the variation if you prefer a saucier supper!
  4. Once water is boiled, prepare minute rice according to package directions (butter/margarine optional). This can be done while the beans are warming.
  5. Serve beans on a bed of rice.

Add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste and a little water to the beans to make a saucier version. You can also use a bit of ketchup. You may need to add a little more basil to keep the balance of the seasonings. If you like it hot, hot sauce is nice addition too.

To make this at home you might enjoy using basmati rice and fresh basil. For the saucier version I add fresh tomatoes.

** Warning, the meal is delicious but not especially pretty, particularly if you stir the beans a too much and they break. This gives the dish a lovely flavour but a greyish color. To offset the issue, serve with bright vegetables like fresh carrots and snap peas. (Though I would avoid green or red peppers but that’s just me… my digestive system freaks out with that combo!)

Please let me know the recipe turned out for you in the comments below.

Thanks for dropping by and ’til next time, Shine, Just Shine!

~ Julie